Avery Looks To Solidify Secondary

WVU safety back to full health after injury-plagued 2017

MORGANTOWN — Toyous Avery’s first start at West Virginia University included two of the most memorable non-plays of the Georgia native’s career.

After moving his way up the depth chart to a starting safety role in the Mountaineers’ Russell Athletic Bowl showdown with the Atlantic Coast Conference’s University of Miami at the end of the 2016 campaign, the former Coffeyville Community College player thought he had come away with the first two interceptions of his WVU career.

However, neither counted as Avery was flagged on both plays for pass interference.

“I thought I had really made a couple of great plays, but the official said that both times I used my hands and that’s why he flagged me,” Avery said.

The Hurricanes went on to register a 31-14 victory, but fans saw enough positives in the play of the 5-foot-11 defensive back that hopes for a stellar 2017 season was on everyone’s mind when WVU took on Virginia Tech to open the campaign.

But, instead of getting an opportunity to continue impressing coaches and fans, Avery spent much of the campaign nursing a variety of injuries that ranged from a finger to a hand problem.

Avery opened the season with 10 total stops in games against the Hokies and East Carolina, but missed the next two games before registering five tackles in a win over Texas Tech.

That success was short-lived, however, as a second injury in WVU’s win over Baylor put him back on the sideline for the next three games and when he did return, his play was far from what either he or WVU fans expected it would be.

Avery finished his second season in Morgantown with 20 tackles, including 14 solo stops, assisted on a tackle for loss and had four pass breakups.

But, it’s his last three games — losses to Texas, Oklahoma and Utah — that has him and his defensive teammates working hard this summer.

“We have an edge about ourselves,” Avery said. “I’m not sure how to explain it. We are going hard, hard, hard, no matter what it is. Even if it’s the simplest thing.”

The numbers are there for the former Newton High School (Covington, Ga.) native. In 11 games at Coffeyville Community College, Avery registered 69 tackles, including 39 solo stops, 5.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, five pass breakups and a team-high five interceptions.

Numbers good enough to rank him in the top six in the Jayhawk CC Conference in interceptions and fumble recoveries and a spot on the All-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Second Team.

“I am very confident in my ability to get the job done,” Avery said. “It’s not bragging. It’s confidence in my ability. Last year, things just didn’t work out for me.

“But, that’s all good because it just made me work that much harder in the weight room and in the spring to show everyone that I can handle the job (at bandit).”

And a healthy, and motivated, Avery can only be a positive impact on a defense which ranked last in the Big 12 a year ago and one analysts heading into the upcoming season are pointing toward as WVU looks to improve on its fourth-place showing.

“We’ve all heard what they (the analysts) are saying, but they haven’t been here this summer watching us. The edge is there. We know we are better than we played last year and we want to show it.”

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