WVU safety takes Aliquippa newcomer under his wing

MORGANTOWN — Dravon Askew-Henry has been around the WVU football program five years, played three positions in the secondary and labored alongside the likes of K.J. Dillon, Karl Joseph and Kyzir White.

Askew-Henry has been through the ups and downs of college football, from being a freshman all-American to suffering a season-ending injury.

The Aliquippa, Pa., native is the old man on the block now, entering his senior season and locked into the “spur” safety spot. While he’s played with NFL draft picks his entire career, the mention of one newcomer put a smile on Askew-Henry’s face.

Kwantel Raines, a highly touted freshman from Aliquippa, arrived on campus this month, and fellow Quip Askew-Henry has already taken Raines under his wing.

“I’m really close with him. I can literally walk to his house back at home, he was right down the street from me growing up,” Askew-Henry said. “He is a great kid and has always been athletic. I’m glad that I can get a chance to play with him.”

Under head coach Mike Zmijnanc, Raines helped Aliquippa to a 12-1 mark in 2017. Ranked a 4-star recruit by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports, Raines was a part of a defense that allowed just one touchdown the entire regular season.

His path to Morgantown was nearly identical to Askew-Henry’s — including the pressure of being a highly rated player in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) with the likes of Pitt and Penn State breathing down his neck.

In the end, both players decided on WVU despite local backlash. Askew-Henry may have nudged Raines in his direction.

“I would just be sitting in the porch, he’d walk by and we’d always talk,” Askew-Henry said. “He always said that he was going to come here and play with me, and it actually happened.”

When Askew-Henry arrived at WVU, in 2014, he was more of a back-end secondary player, not really sure if he fit in more as a cornerback or free safety. He started at free during his first two years before sitting out 2016 with a torn ACL. In 2017, he moved around among free, bandit and spur because of injuries at other spots.

Raines, on the other hand, is a spur from the beginning. With his instincts close to the line of scrimmage and ability to stop the run, he’s a natural fit to play there.

Coincidentally, Askew-Henry is a spur this season to replace White, so he will work in the same position group as Raines after narrowly missing playing with each other in high school.

“I was here already when he was in high school, but I would go back home and check out some games when I could, and Kwantel was pretty good,” Askew-Henry said. “He’s already got the size coming in here as a freshman to play spur. We’ve been going after it every day together and he’s an Aliquippa guy, so I know he’s going to be bringing it every day.”

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