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WVU looking to add defensive backs in 2023 recruiting class

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia has 18 commitments in the 2023 football class but one area that still needs addressed is in the defensive backfield.

There are a few key targets who are expected to make their college choices known this month.

First up will be Niceville (Fla.) 2023 cornerback Jayden Sheppard, who announced a top five of WVU, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Tulane and Coastal Carolina on Independence Day.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder took an official visit to Morgantown during the June 3-5 weekend and the program has been cemented among his top options. He received his offer from the Mountaineers during a visit in January and things have only continued to develop between the two.

Sheppard also took a visit to Tulane this summer and made previous stops at several of the other options, including Arkansas. The Mountaineers have gotten him to campus for an official visit though and if he sticks with his July 16 announcement that could bode well.

“It was all amazing all around. But what stood out the most was probably the relationship with the coaches and the players so you know it’s real love in the program,” he said.

WVU is targeting Sheppard as a nickel with the ability to slide around to multiple spots in the secondary.

Brooklyn (N.Y.) Canarsie 2023 cornerback Tayvon Nelson also will announce his college choice in the month of July and is another key target on the board for the program. Nelson, at 6-foot-2 and 187 pounds, took official visits to WVU and Maryland at the end of June and is set to decide July 23.

The 3-star prospect has been a top target since early in the process and is being recruited by secondary coach ShaDon Brown. He has made multiple trips to campus but the official visit was the most informative yet as he was able to see all aspects of the program.

“The communication has been constant and ongoing. They tell me I’m their No. 1 prospect at my position and that they really want me,” he said.

WVU and Maryland, along with Penn State, make up the top group for Nelson but it’s expected to largely be a battle between the first two on that list. While WVU has been involved longer, the Terrapins have made a strong impression and are considered threats in this recruitment.

Nelson is being targeted as a cornerback initially due to his size, but could slide over to safety as he continues to develop. 

The Mountaineers currently have a pair of defensive back commitments in this class with Fairfield (Ohio) twin brothers Josiah and Jordan Jackson but that number could double if the program receives good news this month. WVU is certainly in the mix for both.