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West Virginia Receivers Growing Into Pivotal Role

west virginia receivers growing

As we continue our Spring position preview for the Mountaineers, we look at the wide receiver room. Losing veteran leadership after 2022, the room must continue to translate potential into polish. This Spring should see the West Virginia receivers growing into a pivotal role for the 2024 offense.

West Virginia Receivers Growing Into Pivotal Role

As we discussed in our running back preview, Head Coach Neal Brown and Offensive Coordinator Chad Scott clearly favor running the football. The Mountaineers threw the ball just 331 times in 2024. Returning starter Garrett Greene completed just 53% of his throws, so the aerial attack does not rely on high volume. As a result, it may seem strange to say that the West Virginia receivers growth into a pivotal role remains a fundamental ingredient for WVU to match or improve upon its surprise performance in 2023. That limited volume, however, actually makes the proposition more sound.

Greene was one of the most efficient passers in the country in terms of downfield production and yards per completion in 2023. He needs to help himself in the short and intermediate game, however, and receiver development can push those numbers up. While both dealt with some measure of injuries in 2023, the sure hands of Preston Fox and Hudson Clement helped the room overcome the loss of all six of their leading receivers from 2022. EJ Horton also proved to be a viable field-stretching option due to his game-breaking speed. Horton, however, dropped a few passes that he needs to catch to take the next step forward in 2024. Those three are the probable leaders headed into the Spring.

That does not mean, however, that young players like Rodney Gallagher, Traylon Ray, and Jarel Williams will matter any less. All three enter 2024 as sophomores (with Williams being a red-shirt sophomore). They were asked to contribute early, and, this year, they will each be asked to contribute more. That means run blocking, pass blocking, running crisp routes, and gaining separation from opposing defensive backs. The better each can do all of those things well, the better this room can be.

Experimenting with the Positions

Reports from the open practices so far suggest that the coaching staff has been rotating the receivers on campus to figure out how to maximize the talent on the field. The names mentioned so far should all be familiar to Mountaineers fans, as each contributed meaningfully last season at various times. Indeed, the room lost only Devin Carter from its top six producers in 2023. Williams has the least experience out of this group, and he is the one who arguably has the most room to improve in order to cement a role within the group.

The staff must also figure out how to best utilize coveted transfer Jaden Bray from Oklahoma State. That certainly explains the rotation as the young group (of the contributors, only one–Horton–is a senior) in Spring. The staff has seven mouths to feed (not including the tight ends and running backs catching out of the backfield). The staff must also look for ways to help Greene improve his completion rate. Those two goals require the staff to put their pass catchers into the best positions to succeed.

Considering how the staff likes to disguise certain run packages, it also means that multiple receivers will need to learn and play comfortably out of different slots on the field. Learning pre-snap motion from each of those positions should also be considered crucial. As fans, we often overlook the importance of these “little” things, but success in the run game and the passing game requires Brown’s offense to execute the small things. As we saw in 2023, a fully realized offense under Brown throws at least two layers of pre-snap motion. These Spring experiments will tell the staff plenty about the presumptive pecking order of this young group heading into next season. As a result, we expect to see the West Virginia receivers growing into a pivotal role this Spring.


west virginia receivers growing
Photo courtesy:  Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports


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