MORGANTOWN - It's said there's safety in numbers.
Unfortunately for West Virginia University's football team, that's not necessarily the case - at safety.
There are exceptions. Starting free safety Robert Sands is a returning first-team All-Big East honoree.
There's Sidney Glover, a solid player, moved from spur to bandit.
Otherwise? Well, let's just say it's a concern right now.
"We need some young kids to step up,'' said defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. "Not a lot of depth there. That hurt us during the bowl game and during [last] year when Nate Sowers had a calf injury, right before the South Florida game. Terence [Garvin] ended up playing. [Assistant coach] Steve [Dunlap] has his work cut out for him a little bit.''
Here's the situation as it stands: At spur, WVU has Garvin, a true sophomore, running with the first team and senior Trippe Hale behind him. At free, Sands is capably backed by Eain Smith. At bandit, there's Glover - and a kid, a redshirt freshman, named Darwin Cook.
If you're not a recruiting junkie, Cook is probably a foreign name. He didn't fly under the proverbial recruiting radar, but simply earned two or three stars on his high school performance.
The suggestion, though, is to take note of his high school. See, Cook hails from Shaw High in East Cleveland, Ohio. That's the exact high school from which WVU extracted one of its all-time great football players, Darryl Talley.
At Shaw, Talley was a fullback and linebacker. Scouts knew he was a talent, but couldn't get a handle on his position. Talley then broke an ankle and missed his last seven high school games.
He overcame. And lit up WVU's program.
Cook right now is simply "a talented kid with great speed,'' according to Casteel. One cannot compare him to Talley, who shuffled off to Buffalo and played in two Pro Bowls and four Super Bowls.
Cook, however, is also trying to overcome as his high school legacy did. And prosper.
"He's shown flashes of being really, really good,'' Dunlap said. "But he played defensive end in high school, so there was a huge learning curve because of a lack of experience.
"He didn't do anything a defensive back does. So he's like a fawn running through the woods. Every day is a new day for him. But he tries really, really hard. He comes in early and stays late. Has all the ingredients to become a good player.''
Cook, however, was stiff-armed in his attempt to play as a true freshman. So he reached out - back to West Virginia's past.
"When I got redshirted, I kind of got down on myself,'' Cook said. "I called [Talley]. He told me, 'Stay focused. They're doing it for a reason. Get your education.' That's what I'm working on now: my education.
"I talk to [Talley] from time to time. He's from my high school. He tells me certain things to do here. To stay motivated. To keep the work ethic.''
"Darwin wasn't quite used to the intensity we have here,'' Dunlap said with a smile.
There has been improvement though.
"I feel I'm coming along great,'' Cook, 5-foot-11, 191 pounds, said. "The first day, I messed up every play. Every play I messed up. I was getting talked about.