A Little Know-Howe: Why BHS Alum Tonkery to Have Opportunity to Match Hype at WVU Redshirt Frosh

By Brad Howe on August 19, 2017 from A Little Know-Howe via Connect-Bridgeport.com

We see it nearly every year. A player from the state of West Virginia who may have been under-recruited, suddenly becomes a key player for the Mountaineer football team.
 
Often times, it's on the defensive side of the ball.
 
Scott Gyorko and Marc Magro from Morgantown come to mind. Wes Tonkery from Bridgeport is another. Justin Arndt from Martinsburg led the team in tackles last year.
 
The list goes on and on.
 
This year's breakout star could very well be a guy whose name is familiar around this area. 
 
Dylan Tonkery. Bridgeport Indian fans remember him as a dominant two-way player that led the team to three state titles.
 
He not only played safety on teams that held opponents to less than 10 points per game in each of his final two seasons, but also rushed for nearly 3,500 yards and 40 touchdowns in his career.
 
The voice of the Indians, Travis Jones, described him this way: “Dylan (along with Dante Bonamico) are two of those once in a generation type of players. The leadership and big play abilities rank near the top in Bridgeport football history"
 
Tonkery is now a redshirt freshman at WVU and has caught the attention of Mountaineer coaches.
 
Earlier this summer, I asked WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson during our radio show (Citynet Statewide Sportsline) who would be his pick for a ’darkhouse' candidate to have a breakout season this year?
 
He answered without hesitation. Dylan Tonkery.
 
A few weeks later, Dana Holgorsen revealed that Tonkery tested in the 'elite player' category during the summer conditioning program. As the category name suggests, not many players test out at that level. There are even fewer that test at that level and don’t become big time players by the time they are done in Morgantown.
 
Tonkery should get ample opportunity this season to show that he’s ready to live up to the hype.
 
Star linebacker David Long suffered a knee injury this off season that will keep him on the sidelines for the first few games.
 
Enter Tonkery. Now around 220 pounds, Tonkery has been impressive playing the same position (will linebacker) that his brother Wes did while wearing the gold and blue.
 
If there is one thing we know about West Virginia's defense under Tony Gibson, it's the ability to not only survive the loss of a key player, but to thrive after losing one.
 
Two seasons ago it was Karl Joseph who missed most of the year with a knee injury. That WVU defensive unit went on to finish second in the Big 12 in total defense.
 
Last year, star safety Dravon Askew-Henry was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury just weeks before the first game. WVU went on to lead the Big 12 in scoring defense last year.
 
Unfortunately, the trend of losing the best defensive player on the team continued this year with Long injuring his knee.
 
Can Tony Gibson and the defense work its magic again this year?
 
Gibson likes to preach the 'next man up' mentality. That mantra has worked extremely well the last two seasons.
 
If they're going to make it a third, Bridgeport's Dylan Tonkery may end up being one of the reasons why.
 
Editor's Note: Photos from practice courtesy of Dan Shrensky.


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