Williams “next man up” as Pinckney transitions

Colin Tate

During a non-contact drill in early August, redshirt-sophomore defensive back Brandon Pinckney suffered a season ending knee-injury, leaving a vacancy in the defensive backfield. The team revealed Sunday that the vacancy will be filled by junior-college transfer Mondo Williams.

Pinckney, who played in 10 games for the Mountaineers last season, had been the favorite to replace last year’s starter, Joel Ross, who was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent.

“It’s tough to describe,” Pinckney said. “You’re playing a deep ball. You’re thinking you’re making a play on it and it happens so fast. You can’t even really recall it.”

Pinckney’s teammates understood his importance to the defense.

“That was a big loss,” Williams said. “A starting corner. A real big player that was filling a big role. For him to go down, that was a huge setback.”

The coaches were hurt by the news as well.

“To be able to see him grow these past three years have been outstanding,” cornerbacks coach Bryan Brown said. “And for him to work so freaking hard to get to where he was, and then for it to be taken away from him this season. It’s gonna hurt us.”

Moving forward with a “next-man-up” mentality, Brown believes that the team has the depth on the roster at cornerback to still compete at a high level.

“You look at Latrell Gibbs, who started seven or eight games for us last year as a true freshman,” Brown said. “You got Mondo Williams, who’s a junior college guy. And you’re looking at a guy like Tae Hayes who’s come in and had an unbelievable camp. You also look at Jordan Ford. Justin Wilson. Those guys. They can do it right now, so we’re okay.”
Williams, a junior college transfer from Iowa Western Community College, was thrown in with the starters immediately after Pinckney went down and played well enough to secure the spot.

“Mondo will be able to step up and that’s the reason why we signed him,” head coach Scott Satterfield said. “We needed to get some help at corner. Mondo’s had a great attitude right from the start, and he’s really competed. We like what he can do.”

In 2014, Williams had eight interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, nine pass deflections, and 44 tackles. He was named a National Junior College Athletic Association second-team All-American for the Reivers before transferring to App State.

Once Pinckney recovers from surgery, he plans to help Williams the other cornerbacks from the sidelines.

“When they come off the field I can say, ‘Hey, you had this coverage’ or ‘Hey, did you see this and that,’” Pinckney said. “In this time off, I just want to excel as a player-coach and help my teammates out.”

Brown said he welcomes Pinckney’s help and advice as he transitions in to his new role with the team.
“I can’t watch both corners at the same time,” Brown said. “It’s impossible. So he’ll look at the other corners and be like ‘You’re getting out of there too fast’ or ‘You’re using the wrong hand.’ Just things like that.”

Not only do the coaches see Pinckney as a presence on the sidelines, but Satterfield said that the players respect him and he’ll be a good leader in the locker room this season.

“He’ll be out on the field coaching those guys because he wants to see them do good,” Satterfield said. “He’s got a great attitude about it, and that’s the key. If you’re having a surgery like this, and an injury like this, you have to have a great attitude, and he’s got that.”


Story by: Colin Tate, Intern Sports Reporter