MORGANTOWN - There is fast on the football field and there is Nana Kyeremeh on the football field.
This is not to say the freshman cornerback from Worthington, Ohio, is especially fast or critically slow. He is instead one of the faster players on the team, though one with a peculiar problem common to many who are new to college.
"The bad part of being fast is sometimes you rely on your speed too much and you think you're always going to catch up with the guy," West Virginia cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts said. "The thing I always tell Nana, the main point of emphasis for him, is not to modify his speed and not to gauge his speed based on the receiver. He needs to play fast all the time."
On the surface, that wouldn't seem like a problem for the 5 foot, 11 inch, 175-pound Kyeremeh (full name is pronounced NAN-uh KY-rum). He was one of the best sprinters in all the high schools that populate Ohio. He won three state championships for relays, placed third in another and placed third in the 100 meters for Thomas Worthington High.
Kyeremeh played safety as a senior and saw top talent on the way to representing Ohio in the Big 33 Football Classic against Pennsylvania. He was a quick learner at WVU. Kyeremeh was second-team by the second week and played a little with the starters. The speed was to credit and he led the team throughout preseason camp in interceptions.
"He's got great vision and really good ball skills," Roberts said. "He can locate the ball. The fact the ball is getting thrown by Geno Smith with high velocity and a lot of touch means he's getting good preparation for finding it."
Kyeremeh has nevertheless had some trouble. When the team released its depth chart Monday that structured the start of practice Tuesday, Kyeremeh was a third-team corner.
"Sometimes he tends to get into coast mode and slows down because he knows he can almost always catch up with people, but you can't play like that," Roberts said. "I want him on top of receivers all the time."
Kyeremeh sees all of this and understand it quite clearly.
He's learned that while competition in high school was good, it's very different in college. The receivers are bigger, faster and stronger now, and a few of them have all three going for them at once. The focus is on footwork and hand speed and technique like never before.