Jacolby Spells didn’t need a lot of time to make his mark for the Mountaineers.
In just his third appearance for West Virginia, Spells sealed the WVU’s rivalry win over Virginia Tech with a pick-six. That was the first interception of the season for the team’s defense, which thirsted for turnovers as it struggled through the first two games of the campaign.
That early stretch forced coach Neal Brown to examine which players were getting snaps on defense. His conclusion was that his young players needed to get more playing time, and specifically named Spells as a candidate for added burn.
“Jacolby’s going to play at corner,” Brown said on Sept. 13. “We’re going to get those guys ready to play. They’re talented, and it’s our job to get them ready.”
Spells recorded his first stats against Towson, logging three total tackles in the blowout win. The pick-six in prime time against the Hokies, however, thrust him into the spotlight and he was named the team’s defensive player of the week. The play itself was voted the play of the week in the Big 12.
“We’ve been talking about making plays and he was aggressive,” Brown said. “He jumped in front of the ball there and really clinched the victory with the pick-six.”
Spells did play more than on just that one play. Brown was pleased with his performance and expressed optimism that his top prospect of 2021 will continue to improve this season.
So far, Brown said that he has learned how to prepare and play at the college level. That’s a perfect compliment to the physical tools with which he arrived in Morgantown.
Brown added that he does anticipate mistakes, but he is comfortable with those as he expects them from a young player. Regardless, Spells will continue to play in the secondary.
“He only played that position two years at American Heritage, he was a receiver,” Brown said. “We offered him as a receiver before he even moved over and made the move to DB. So he’s going to learn and he’s going to get better, but athletically, and length and strength and being able to have explosion, he’s got what we want.”