The West Virginia defense will be tasked with replacing cornerbacks Keith Washington and Hakeem Bailey this season, but luckily, a crop of freshmen got valuable experience at the position last season out of necessity.
The duo of Washington and Bailey led the WVU secondary for two seasons. Washington did miss a few games with a lower body injury, but he started all 10 that he played in tallying three interceptions and nine pass breakups. He finished fourth in the Big 12 in passes defended and sixth in interceptions per game.
Bailey’s biggest play of 2019 was the game-winning interception in the end zone at Kansas State. He broke up nine total passes last year and was the team’s fourth-leading tackler with 58 tackles, including 43 unassisted with a sack, an interception and a forced fumble.
This season, Nicktroy Fortune and Tae Mayo are the key returners for the Mountaineers. Fortune started two games in Washington’s absence and finished with 17 total tackles and two pass breakups. Dreshun Miller will be back in the fold after missing all of 2019 with an injury as well.
- Sophomore from Roswell, Georgia
- 6-0, 196 lbs
- Fortune got two games of starting experience in 2019 as a true freshman, but saw action in 419 plays in 11 games, including 327 on defense.
- Redshirt Freshman from Leesburg, Georgia
- 5-10, 181 lbs
- Mayo took a redshirt in 2019, but still saw some playing time against Iowa State — much of which was on defense.
- Sat out last season due to NCAA eligibility rules after transfering from New Hampshire
- 5-11, 192 lbs
- Cousin of Jahmile Addae, a former Mountaineer and current assistant Neal Brown’s staff
Other Returners: Dreshun Miller (r-Jr.), Malachai Ruffin (r-Fr.)
Newcomers: Jackie Matthews (Jr.), Jairo Faverus (Fr.)
Departures: Keith Washington (17 starts), Hakeem Bailey (21 starts)