Talented WVU wide receivers work to become more consistent
Published: Monday, August 22, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 22, 2011 23:08
Talent is something the West Virginia football team does not have to worry about, especially at the wide receiver position.
The Mountaineers have everything from the small and quick wide out, to the tall and bigger receiver. Either way, the guys who are going to be out on the field on Saturdays have the potential to get the job done with head coach Dana Holgorsen's high-powered, high-flying offense.
Overall consistency has been a slight problem so far throughout camp, but it has recently improved with hard work from players like sophomore Stedman Bailey and redshirt junior Ryan Nehlen.
"They have to come to work every day," Holgorsen said. "By the time they think they have it all figured out and they're living the good life, they relax and have a bad day. That's not how this deal works. It's about coming every day and being good every day."
Holgorsen has seen elite types of talent in his previous coaching years. He coached all-American Justin Blackmon at Oklahoma State in 2010 and Michael Crabtree at Texas Tech in 2007.
The factor will be whether the players put their potential into making big plays on the field.
Two players who are likely to see significant playing time this season are junior inside receiver Tavon Austin and sophomore wide receiver Bailey.
Austin is without question the most clear-cut starting receiver, as he already has a full year under his belt. However, Bailey has had a positive summer, and Holgorsen has praised him for his play in practice over the last two weeks.
"Stedman Bailey made some really good plays," Holgorsen stated after Saturday's scrimmage. "(He's) been playing really, really well."
Bailey started in nine games for the Mountaineers last season and will look to improve his 24 catch, 317-yard season that earned him all-Big East freshman honors.
Senior inside receivers Devon Brown and Tyler Urban have been competing with one another throughout the last few weeks and have been pushing each other in practice to get better no matter who comes out on top.
This battle is an interesting one that Holgorsen has been watching all summer. Brown is a transfer from Wake Forest where, according to him, he was very limited in what he could do within the offense. He has talent and game experience. Urban has probably been the most patient player on West Virginia for the last three years. The 6-foot-5, 251-pound receiver rarely got used under former head coach Bill Stewart. Just the fact that these two players are complete opposites going up against each other is fun to watch in practice.
"We're figuring out who does what during a game, but they're a solid one-two (out) there," Holgorsen said after the scrimmage.
Redshirt junior Ryan Nehlen and sophomore Ivan McCartney create another intriguing battle in camp.
Both players have good potential and have famous relatives in the sports world. Nehlen is the grandson of former WVU head coach Don Nehlen, and McCartney is the cousin of current New England Patriot wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
"That one's been one of the more fun ones to watch," Holgorsen said. "Ivan's been so inconsistent for a year, but he's grown up and he's starting to come on consistent."
Nehlen has had a lingering buzz surrounding his name throughout his time here at WVU due to his grandfather. He's stayed patient and now has produced a good enough spring and summer to compete for a starting job.
McCartney also has a lot of potential and just needs to keep competing to earn more playing time in game situations. Then he'll show his overall talent.
Redshirt senior Brad Starks has been injured throughout camp and has not gotten a chance to see the field much since the first week of practice.
Redshirt junior J. D. Woods will have a shot to see action this year as an outside receiver. Woods played in 13 games last season, starting four.
Willie Milhouse, a redshirt senior who sat out all of last year after transferring from Duquesne, has looked good in practice recently and is competing to get on the field. He may back up Tavon Austin at the same position.