West Virginia Native Tonkery Continues to Impress on the field
Redshirt freshman Dylan Tonkery dreams to play for the Mountaineers becomes a reality.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Many players on the Mountaineers defense have seen their first college snaps in the past two weekends at Milan Puskar stadium.
“Guys three months ago weren’t even on campus, four months ago,” Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson said. “We had a couple guys that were still in high school in the spring. So our guys are coming. I like what I’m seeing. They’re starting to understand.”
Redshirt freshman and West Virginia native Dylan Tonkery is one of those players turning heads of his coaches and teammates.
“He’s ahead of where I thought he would be at this point. Three games in the kid,” Gibson said. “I actually called Wes (Tonkery)Saturday night, his older brother, and I said, ‘How many career sacks did you have?’ He said two. I said ‘Dylan will have that by the time we leave Kansas.”
Tonkery, the 6-foot 222-pound safety turned linebacker has already tallied one career sack versus Delaware State last weekend. In his first three games in the old gold and blue, Tonkery has nine solo tackles: two versus Virginia Tech, three versus East Carolina and four versus Delaware State.
Although he did not start against Virginia Tech, he saw 70 snaps which Tonkery said meant a lot to him.
“It meant a lot to me, especially playing Virginia Tech. … That’s a big rivalry. Most of these kids don’t even know about it, but I do because I am from the state. All my family was talking to me about it for months now.”
Gibson said Tonkery plays the game extremely hard.
“He’s very smart, doesn’t make dumb mistakes. He’s doing a really good job tackling. He’s exceeded my expectations at this point.”
Senior linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton said Tonkery has not exceeded his expectations because he already knew what he could do.
“Sometimes with a young guy you don’t know what to expect, but I knew the moment wouldn’t be too big for him and it hasn’t been. I am please with it, he is pleased with it and we are all pleased with what he has been doing so far.”
The older players have mentored Tonkery this season.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “If you go down to the locker room and being here for how long I have, you just learn how to play and how to act. They teach you a little bit, but usually they lead by example.”
Growing up just right up the road from WVU in Bridgeport, Tonkery said playing at Milan Puskar Stadium was everything that he expected.
“I loved being on the field looking around at our fans. I am used to sitting in the stadium watching us play, but now I am out there playing. It was a great experience, I loved it.”
Heading into Sunday’s match-up against Kansas, Tonkery is listed as No. 1 on the depth chart for the Mountaineers.
Cover photo by Kelsie LeRose, BGS.