Veteran Corners Ready to Teach, Compete for Mountaineers - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Veteran Corners Ready to Teach, Compete for Mountaineers

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MORGANTOWN -

In three years at West Virginia, Pat Miller and Brodrick Jenkins have become accustomed to position battles. Whether for the role of the top reserve or of the starter, they have each known what it is to compete not only through camp, but also in a 13-game season.

So, as they each enter their fourth season with the Mountaineers, they must be feeling relief that they are the two most veteran and experienced players vying for two cornerback positions, right?

Well, not as much as you may think, actually.

"I told both of those guys that they had some great snaps last year, did some great things for the defense, but that the entire cornerback crew is starting with a blank slate," cornerback coach Daron Roberts says.

There are plenty of reasons for that mindset. First of all, it's camp, and anyone has the opportunity to impress. Beyond that, though, there is a new defense and a new position coach to become familiar with, so everyone has a chance, regardless of experience.

With that in mind, both Miller and Jenkins feel that they have more pressure.

Despite what the coaches may say, younger players will certainly look up to the veterans who have been there before, even if their ultimate goal is to beat them out for a spot.

"Over the past couple years, we all had somebody to look up to, somebody who it was their defense. But now it's our defense, so we've got to take everything seriously," says Miller. "We've got to do exactly what they did, but even better because we're learning a new defense. They had a defense that they knew and we have to learn it and also teach it to the new players, so we have to take everything more seriously."

Players like Avery Williams and Terrell Chestnut stand out to Roberts as those most likely to give Miller and Jenkins a run at the starting positions at this point.

Miller is already at a bit of a disadvantage after suffering a broken foot in practice that will keep him out for the rest of spring. Most of his progression in the coming weeks will be the result of mental reps rather than physical.

Roberts cautions that there are more candidates for his cornerbacks than just those players who are taking part in spring practice.

"There are two guys sitting at home right now that once they get here in the summer will also press them for time," Roberts says of incoming freshmen Brandon Napoleon and Nana Kyeremeh. "I think one thing you see from Coach Holgorsen is he's not afraid to play freshmen and neither am I."

This is the sort of thing Miller expects to hear. As a competitor, he never believed he would be given a position because of what he had done in the past. His goal is to show Roberts, Holgorsen and the rest of the staff that he deserves the job he came to WVU to play.

"We know at the end of the day, to make this team better, we've got to go out there and play the game to the best of our ability," says Miller. "Since we're the older ones in the group, we've got to show how old we are, show Coach that we have experience and experience can help."

Both Miller and Jenkins have reason to be confident following the way they closed out last season for the Mountaineers. Each had two interceptions, tied for second on the team, and they combined for 11 pass breakups.

Miller's biggest contributions came in the final two games of the year with a pick-six in the Big East-clinching South Florida win and another interception in that blowout second quarter of the Orange Bowl.

"Coming off the end of my junior season, that just gives me more confidence and I'm feeling myself like I can go out here and do the same things and just build off it," he says. "I ended with two picks, so I'm trying to get more every game."

There is no denying that they have learned from two of the best examples they could have with Brandon Hogan and Keith Tandy serving as mentors in previous seasons and still today.

It will be up to this group of corners to ensure that the future at the position is as successful as its past.

"I feel like there won't be any drop off. If anything, we're going to try to go higher than how Tandy and Hogan did," says Miller.

"We still talk to them, they talk to us, but we know it's our defense now, so everything we do, we're trying to be better than the last person."

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