The West Virginia receiving corps has had its deficiencies in the first two years under the Neal Brown regime. Most of the issues can be linked to youth and/or inexperience after a veteran group of receivers led by Gary Jennings and David Sills graduated out of the program the year prior to Brown taking over the helm.
However, receivers like Sam James, Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Sean Ryan, and Winston Wright Jr. are now entering their third year in the program. The group as a whole is talented, but the issue that has plagued this unit is dropped passes. It is a statistic that is not officially kept, so depending on who you talk to, it can vary. However, there have been a couple of instances the past two seasons where the dropped pass total nearly reached double figures, but they've improved both years as the season progresses, albeit not to the level need to have any success players and teams strive for.
"I think the main challenge for us is we got to do a better job in controlling our emotions and our response, and when things do go poorly - we got to be better, said Brown. We can't let one mistake or one dropped pass affect another play, and so we've got to be able to control our emotions and show growth.”
Strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph and his staff made a noticeable impact in the receiver’s room through the winter workout program.
“Winston Wright looks significantly different. Bryce Wheaton, Sam James looks significantly different than they did when you saw them after the bowl game. Shawn Ryan is the same [category], and we have talent in that room,” said Brown.
Winning one on one on the outside on a consistent basis has been and continues to be a point of emphasis for this group.
"We’ve got to be more consistent,” continued Brown. Some of those guys, I’d say a lot of those guys, have been pressed into playing before they were physically ready, and sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s not. And so, they put a lot of work in catching the ball over the break, but until we get in the fall and they do it in the games probably shouldn’t forecast.”
The annual Gold and Blue Game is scheduled to kickoff Saturday, April 24, at 1:00 pm.
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