Confidence Restored, Dravon Askew-Henry Primed for 2018 Season
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia senior safety Dravon Askew-Henry knows he wasn’t 100% a year ago — at least not when making a total evaluation of his play. Despite solid numbers that showed 57 tackles, four pass breakups and an interception, he didn’t play with the flair or verve that had made him an integral part of the Mountaineer defense from the moment he set foot on campus in 2014. That season, he started all 13 games and earned true freshman All-America honors from ESPN while unleashing thunderous hits and playing with abandon. He duplicated that showing a year later, but then was struck down by the football gods with a preseason knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2016 campaign.
Medically cleared to play a year later, he again started every game, splitting time between his original position of free safety and a new one at bandit, where he could be closer to the line of scrimmage and hopefully bring more of his physical presence to bear on opposing offenses. While the theory was sound, and Askew-Henry was fine with the move, something was off.
It wasn’t that the Aliquippa, Pa., native played poorly. It was just that he didn’t show the same verve or deliver the same impact that he had during his first two seasons, where he racked up big hits and breakups galore. His play was o.k., but not what was expected, and he was the first to see it.
“Confidence,” he said of the missing ingredient in his 2017 play. “During the season it was more of a confidence thing. In football if you don’t have confidence, you have already lost.”
To his credit, Askew-Henry acknowledged that things weren’t quite right. He battled through the year, fighting against the brace he wore to repair his surgically prepared knee, hoping that he could rehabilitate his mental outlook just as he did his knee. That process, just like injury recovery, can take time, and it wasn’t until he got through some off-season work that he he began to feel like his old self.
It wasn’t as if Askew-Henry lost his love for the game, or wasn’t giving his best effort. It was just that bit of lost confidence, which can often lead to a moment’s hesitation, that was making the difference. Arriving just a split-second later than he usually did, he missed out on some plays that he was accustomed to making during the first two seasons of his college career. Now, though, after more time, he feels back on top of his game in all areas.
“Getting into spring and summer with the heavy load of work, I started feeling good again,” he said. “I needed to get my confidence back where I know I am the best out there. That is something I have worked on, and after this this winter and spring and summer I feel as good as I ever felt.”
That’s good news for West Virginia’s rebuilding defense, which needs its senior anchors –Dravon-Henry, Ezekiel Rose and Toyous Avery — to perform well both on the field and in leadership roles. A player that isn’t confident, as Dravon-Henry explained, is already way behind on the field, and there’s no way that such a player can be a leader that inspires by example. Self-doubt is a crippler, but after what amounts to almost two years of his own personal rebuilding process, Askew-Henry is ready to go.
“I’m going into the season with a chip on my shoulder. I’m just ready to put it all out there,” said the six-foot, 195-pound safety. “I just need to make plays and have fun out there.”