MORGANTOWN — Dravon Askew-Henry made his college debut at the Georgia Dome against an SEC team in 2014. He earned the start as a true freshman against Alabama at free safety, checking his first “first” off his list and wound up starting every game of that season.
Last season, coming off a torn ACL that sidelined him for the entire 2016 campaign, Askew-Henry had to get his feet back under him after not seeing action for almost two years. He was back at his free safety spot against Virginia Tech at a neutral stadium at FedExField.
While not a first, it was certainly a learning experience for Askew-Henry, trying to play on a surgically repaired knee.
He later made the move to Bandit for the first — there’s that word again — time to replace the injured Toyous Avery and remained there for the rest of the season.
And now this year, taking on another SEC opponent in Tennessee last Saturday in the season-opener in Charlotte, N.C., Askew-Henry made his debut at Spur against the Volunteers.
Again, another first.
It’s hard to believe Askew-Henry, a fifth-year senior and 40-game veteran with just as many starts, would find himself in a new, unfamiliar situation, but he made his first start at Spur after working there all spring and summer.
In the end, whether it’s at free, Bandit or Spur, it doesn’t really matter to Askew-Henry — football is football.
“It felt good, it’s not anything new for me — I’m just out there playing football,” he said. “It’s my senior year and I’m ready to go out there and give everything I’ve got.”
Askew-Henry made his presence known, finishing with eight tackles, including one for a loss, part of the 12 the entire Mountaineers defense racked up against the Vols.
At Spur, Askew-Henry plays closer to the line of scrimmage, so opportunities to stop the run will present themselves more often, while also needing to cover the slot receiver in certain packages.
Breakdowns in assignments is something that bothered Askew-Henry about his unit’s performance, which caused Tennessee to break off several long runs, especially in the Vols’ scoring drive in the third quarter.
Askew-Henry was not on the field when Tennessee scored on a rushing touchdown by Tim Jordan — he was injured the play before when he had the wind knocked out of him.
Coach Dana Holgorsen was critical of the defense’s effort on critical downs, saying it needs to be improved. Askew-Henry, named a team captain prior to the game, echoed his coach’s concern.
“I think we did pretty good but they had a couple big runs toward the end, but that’s just goes back to everybody doing their jobs in the gaps. Everyone can just get better doing their assignments. If everyone out there is doing their assignments and their jobs, then it will eliminate all of those plays.
“I like the way we played, but there’s definitely mistakes that we’ll see on film that need to be fixed and get right.”
Tweet @SeanManning_DP. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.