West Virginia lacks numbers but no talent in WR room


Perhaps no position on the West Virginia roster has seen as much turnover from a year ago as what happened in the wide receiver room.

The Mountaineers have lost three of their top five receivers from a season ago, though each of them still has at least one more season of eligibility to play in Morgantown.

Junior Winston Wright led the team in receptions (66), yards (688) and was tied for the lead in touchdowns (5) but elected to enter the transfer gate and signed up at Florida State mid Road. The room also felt the loss of redshirt senior Sean Ryan (25 catches for 399 yards and 3 scores) to Rutgers and redshirt senior Isaiah Esdale (29 catches for 362 yards and a touchdown) to Rice. .

That’s not even taking into account that the position coach last season in Gerad Parker left for the tight ends coach job at Notre Dame and the Mountaineers welcomed Tony Washington from Costal Carolina.

That’s a lot of new in this room as the Mountaineers look to incorporate a new offensive system under new coordinator Graham Harrell.

That leaves the Mountaineers with a total of eight scholarship recipients, but two of them haven’t even signed up as junior college options yet, Jeremiah Aaron and Cortez Braham will arrive this summer to join the roster. . That’s a far cry from what was expected of wide receivers when teams had up to a dozen to go at least three at each position.

But it’s not entirely unexpected.

“What has become very clear to us over the past two years is that you can’t please so many guys anymore,” said head coach Neal Brown. “We had a solid group in this room last year, but you can’t keep seven or eight guys happy.”

While the numbers inside this room are slim, that doesn’t mean there aren’t talents available. Returning pieces such as Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Sam James have been vital parts of the attack. Ford-Wheaton was second last season with 42 catches for 575 yards and 3 scores, while James had 42 catches for 505 yards and 5 touchdowns and there’s room for the backside.

“There’s another big step they can take,” Brown said.

Although limited last season to just 12 catches for 175 yards in 9 games, second Kaden Prather has the chance to become a real difference maker at this position.

The fourth name in this room is second Reese Smith who, Brown admits, was underutilized with 12 catches for 124 yards and a score. This is something Brown hopes to fix.

“He’s a guy who can be a big part of it and he’s pretty good,” Brown said. “He was one of our best special teams players a year ago, but he can be an important element for us offensively.”

There is also the unknown with the two college juniors who will arrive this summer and the true rookie Jarel Williams who will participate in the spring ball. There are a lot of things that will be different in this room, but the coaching staff is betting that the position will step up.


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