This training camp has been all about asking one simple question: Who is going to step up for the Mountaineers in 2013? Every position has question marks and every position is up for grabs with a select few being safe. One position, that has started to heat up over the past week, has been cornerback. With Nana Kyeremeh, a projected starter, out for the season, Ishmael Banks and Travis Bell have been stepping in to fill the void.
Banks is a redshirt-junior who has played both cornerback and safety. He’s been switched around but is having a solid camp at the corner position this summer. When head coach Dana Holgorsen addressed the media Monday, he said that Banks was playing really well.
“Banks has been playing just as good as anybody,” Holgorsen said.
Personally, Banks has been waiting for this opportunity since setting foot on campus, and is seizing his moment.
“[Starting] would be great because all I’ve been working on is winning this summer and is to be a starter,” Banks said, “I’ve been working on getting faster, getting stronger, and just being more tuned in every time.”
Leadership has been a big topic of the WVU football team this summer, and Banks thinks he can step up and be one of the leaders on defense.
“You have to leave it all on the table. Everyone wants to play, so you have to give it all that you got.”
Banks, like most of the players on defense, is in a position battle with several other players, but he knows what it takes to gain the coaches’ attention.
“It’s been back and forth, and everybody has been getting better so it’s about who is going to make the least amount of mistakes, less mental errors and just play downhill. Who is going to be the fastest, so that’s what it is coming down to,” Banks said of the competition.
Another part of that competition stands on the other sideline of the field.
Bell is making the transition from safety to corner, a move that is common in college football. According to Holgorsen, Bell is transitioning nicely.
Bell said that he can “play faster at corner”, which is one thing the coaches are looking for according to Banks.
The redshirt-junior made the switch to corner right before the spring game in 2012.
“I watched them on film, I practiced with the corners and ran with the corners. Getting in shape and running more wasn’t one of my issues, because I kind of like running. Film really helped me. The biggest change is running all the time. You don’t run as much at safety as you do at corner, and at safety you probably hit more than at corner,” Bell said, “Corner is more technique sound, so you have to be more patient because you kind of see everything. Corner is a quick game, and you have to know what you’re doing right then and there.”
Bell, who said he played some corner in high school, is looking forward to using his size as an advantage at that position.
Both Banks and Bell have been getting reps with the first team in practice both days that the media was allowed in this week. Former starter Brodrick Jenkins has been running with the second team, along with freshman Daryl Worley. As camp winds down, the depth chart is starting to take shape. Guys like Banks and Bell will need to finish strong to lead this defensive secondary.