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Bowl Prep: What It's Like & Why It's so Valuable

Extra practice time can be vital for the development of younger players.

The Mountaineers may not be headed to the College Football Playoff or the Sugar Bowl this year but the time leading up to the Guaranteed Rate Bowl is still vital to the development of future contributors. In my five seasons in Morgantown, we were fortunate enough to play in four bowl games. Those extra bowl prep practices provided crucial development time for younger and redshirting players going into spring ball and then into fall camp the next year.

The weeks leading up to a bowl are different than typical regular season weeks. While starters and regular rotation players are recovering from the bumps and bruises of the regular season, developmental/redshirt players are getting valuable reps. A late December bowl can mean a dozen or more additional padded practices for players who could contribute on the field next season. For some context, that is nearly the same number of practices in all of spring ball.

This time of year can also bring a team closer together. Classes are beginning to wind down and campus gets quiet as we get closer to Christmas. This means players have more time to spend together outside the practice facility and the classroom. Often, freshmen will be housed in a hotel together once dorms close for the semester. Most years during bowl prep we would take a team trip to the movies or to the Coliseum to watch a Mountaineer basketball game together.

Then you have the bowl trip itself. While the week of the bowl game is much more like a regular season week on the practice field, it is also a chance for younger players who may not have traveled for a game before to learn what is expected of them on road trips. The bowl trip also brings further opportunities for team building. Going to TopGolf, a Memphis Grizzlies game, the Dallas Cowboys practice facility, and Universal Studios in Orlando are just a few of the experiences I saw firsthand. It was on these trips that I feel like I truly got to know some of my teammates.

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The Mountaineers' strong finish to the season has given them more than just another game. It brings with it the chance to grow together as a team and get a head start on the development of future contributors.