For the majority of the 2020 season, redshirt junior wide receiver Isaiah Esdale has had a quiet season. That was until his recent breakout performance against No. 22 Texas last Saturday.
Against the Longhorns, Esdale finished with six receptions for 60 yards. Prior to the game, the native of Newark, Delaware, only had one catch for 13 yards in the 2020 campaign.
WVU head coach Neal Brown was impressed with Esdale's performance and credited his work ethic for his strong game against Texas.
“He’s had two great weeks of practice,” Brown said following the 17-13 loss. “We harp on it all the time that if you do the work, you will eventually have success. He had success today, and it was really great to see.”
Esdale was a part of a much improved West Virginia passing attack that has seen quarterback Jarret Doege throw for at least 300 yards in four straight games. Throughout this season, the passing offense has been detrimental to an offense that was mostly one-sided with Leddie Brown running the football.
That passing attack has become the forefront of this WVU offense with Doege beginning to catch his stride. A key issue for the Mountaineer receiving corps had been dropped passes, but there was little to no sign of that in the previous game.
In 2019, Esdale became a prime target for West Virginia near the end of the season. Through the first four games, Esdale only recorded one catch, but by the end of the season, he had 15 catches for 171 yards and one touchdown.
“He was a guy that made some big plays down the stretch for us last year,” Brown said . “He hasn’t moped around or complained, and he has gone to work.”
West Virginia offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Gerad Parker acknowledged Esdale's mindset towards practice with his performance against Texas.
“He hadn’t really started the year the way he wanted to,” Parker said. “He’s really changed his practice habits and improved his practice habits, too. He’s kind of had a no nonsense mentality about it.”
Esdale's teammate and fellow wide receiver T.J. Simmons sees Esdale as a player that the team can turn to when a big play is needed.
“One word I can say about Isaiah is resilient,” Simmons said after the Texas game. “No matter what happens, he is always ready to play and he’s always ready to get his name called. Today, we needed him to step in and make some plays, and when his number was called, he made those plays.”