MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Throughout the offseason, Mountaineer wide receivers haven’t just been putting in work, they’ve been keeping track of every single catch.
Offensive coordinator Gerad Parker has challenged that position group to “get lost in the work” this offseason, and that appears to be happening. According to one veteran receiver, the running tally for offseason receptions is an eye-popping number — and it might unofficially lead the Big 12 Conference.
“We’ve caught everyday, thousands of balls every week. I think the total in the winter was 89,000 balls combined,” redshirt junior wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton said. “We took it really serious, and we knew what we had to do to improve, so I think we made great strides in that area, too.”
West Virginia’s aerial attack was one of the best in the conference in 2020, ranking second in passing yards behind league champion Oklahoma. But, the Mountaineers were occasionally plagued by drops in key moments, a big reason why they went winless away from Milan Puskar Stadium.
While Ford-Wheaton said his teammates aren’t “worried about the narrative,” they’re dedicating their offseason to cleaning up those miscues by simulating as many game situations as possible.
“We just catch a lot of balls. It’s really repetition, and just getting the motion and catching the ball so you can be more confident and make that catch regardless,” Ford-Wheaton said. “We put ourselves in hard situations.”
“He’s intelligent. He knows our offense in and out,” Brown said. “And I think it’s time. I think he’d tell you the same. I think he’s ready to take that next step, and I think he could be one of the better receivers in our league, I really do believe that.”
In 2020, Ford-Wheaton ranked second on the roster in receiving yards (416) and yards per catch (15.4) among receivers who caught at least 10 passes. He also ranked fourth in receptions with 27.