MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia re-hired safeties coach Tony Gibson last February in large part because of his recruiting productivity, and that proved to be the case Monday with the commitment of four-star defensive back Dravon Henry.
Ranked as the No. 149 prospect nationally by Rivals and the No. 3 prospect in Pennsylvania, Henry chose West Virginia over Pitt during a ceremony at the Aliquippa Municipal Center.
“This is a gigantic coup for safeties coach Tony Gibson,” said Rivals senior writer Keenan Cummings of WVSports.com. “Not only did he get an instant-impact defensive back with a rare combination of size and speed, but he did it out of Pitt’s backyard, at a school that has long produced future Panthers.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Henry was a standout tailback at Aliquippa, rushing for more than 5,000 yards in his high school career, but was being pursued by elite college programs for his work as a defensive back. He also listed Miami, Maryland and Louisville among his finalists and holds around 30 FBS offers from schools such as Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Michigan.
“I feel like everything is off my shoulders now—I can just go back to my normal life,” Henry told Rivals after his announcement. “It feels great (to be a Mountaineer.) Just trying to turn the program around and get ready for the upcoming season. We open up with Alabama, and I can’t wait.”
Henry led Aliquippa to a 12-1 season, his team’s lone loss coming in the WPIAL championship game to South Fayette, which plays for the Class AA state title on Saturday.
“Henry will be given every opportunity to make an early impact in college and has the skills to do just that,” Cummings said. “He’s a huge pickup for WVU.”
West Virginia loses senior safety Darwin Cook from this year’s team, and sophomore K.J. Dillon could face lingering effects from a dehydration issue related to diabetes. During the regular-season finale against Iowa State, the Mountaineers used redshirt freshman Jarrod Harper and true freshman Jeremy Tyler as the backups at safety.
Henry, ranked by Rivals as the No. 14 safety in his class, becomes West Virginia’s 17th commitment for 2014 and its second in two days, following a pledge from junior college quarterback Skylar Howard on Sunday.
West Virginia and Gibson are hoping for more good news out of Aliquippa on Wednesday when Henry’s high school teammate Jaleel Fields, a two-star defensive lineman, chooses between the Mountaineers, Purdue and Cincinnati.
WVU has two defensive backs committed for 2014—junior college cornerback Jaylon Myers pledged in July—along with three linebackers and one defensive end. The positional breakdown on offense includes six linemen, three receivers and two quarterbacks.