FRISCO, Texas — WVU head football coach Dana Holgorsen didn’t flinch when asked if Dravon Askew-Henry would be able to handle playing the “spur” safety position for the first time as a senior.
“Experience,” Holgorsen said July 17, at Big 12 Media Days at The Star. “Dravon has over 2,000 snaps under his belt and the kid has been in this defense for five years now. He understands the defense in general, and if you understand the defense, you can play any of those three safety spots.”
Askew-Henry has done that since joining the Mountaineers as a true freshman, in 2014. He played free safety in his freshman and sophomore seasons before tearing his ACL prior to his junior year.
When he returned last season, Askew-Henry bounced around from free and “bandit” depending on necessity at each spot. With the emergence of Kenny Robinson at free, Askew-Henry was moved to bandit for the second half of the season while Kyzir white manned spur.
With White gone and Toyous Avery returning to play bandit, Askew-Henry is asked to play the only spot he hasn’t played yet — considered the most physical of the three.
Looking at measurements, though, Askew-Henry is drastically smaller than his predecessor White. White is listed at 6-foot-2 and 218 pounds, while Askew-Henry is 6 foot and 200 pounds.
The size difference doesn’t concern Holgorsen, believing it to be more of just how big White was for the position than it is Askew-Henry being too small.
“Kyzir was big to the point where it was really hard not moving him in” to linebacker, Holgorsen said. “He’s going to move in in the NFL, so you want more of a 200-pound guy that can cover and move.”
White was drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Chargers and will play linebacker, according to general manager Tom Telesco.
Holgorsen said a better comparison would be K.J. Dillon, who was Askew-Henry’s teammate from 2014-’15. Dillon played spur his entire career and played below 200 pounds.
Askew-Henry saw what Dillon was able to do, turning himself into an NFL draft pick. From day one, he was always one of the smaller guys in the secondary and learned that it doesn’t really matter in the long run.
“Kyzir and I went through drills together every day and size didn’t mean anything,” Askew-Henry said. “It’s all about how hard you’re willing to work and the effort you want to put into it.”
The most drastic difference has nothing to do with the schematics of it for Askew-Henry. At spur, he will be the “quarterback of the defense now.”
“I’m the one getting the defense lined up when it used to be Kyzir and K.J.,” he said. “I’m ready for it, though, I’m for sure ready for it.”