At the start of the season, West Virginia rolled out a new-look receiving corps. Now, six weeks into the season, the new-look receiving corps has a new look yet again.
Against James Madison in week one, sophomore Sean Ryan, redshirt junior T.J. Simmons, junior Tevin Bush and freshman Sam James started at receiver for the Mountaineers. Since then WVU depth charts and box scores have been a revolving door of different receivers finding playing time.
Bush played well in week one, catching four passes for 74 yards and a touchdown, but a team suspension and a nagging injury have held him out of action since week two.
Ryan was the talk of training camp, but had limited production through the first four weeks. Ryan played his best game against Texas, catching five passes for 70 yards, but he suffered an upper-body injury in the second half that required surgery.
“I hate it for Sean, too, because he was starting to play really well,” head coach Neal Brown said. “The play he got hurt on he made a great play, went up over the top of the [defensive back] on a post route. I feel like he’ll be able to come back, just not sure when.”
With Bush and Ryan both out in the near future, true freshmen Ali Jennings and Winston Wright Jr. have been pushed into action. Both saw their first action of the year in week three against NC State. In their first two games, the duo combined for 12 catches, 86 yards and one touchdown. Neither had a reception against Texas however, and they combined for three catches and 12 yards Saturday versus Iowa State.
Simmons said it’s a mental challenge for the team cope with multiple injuries.
“Especially for us, we’re a young team,” Simmons said. “Especially for some younger guys that start, and have stepped up to gain those roles, go down, then even younger guys, who don’t have as much experience as those guys have to come in.”
The two constants in the receiving corps this year have been James and Simmons.
James leads the team with 37 receptions and 359 yards, but Simmons is right behind him with 25 receptions and 335 yards. They are the only two receivers to catch at least one pass in each game this season. They each also have caught a pair of touchdowns.
Leading the team in touchdown receptions is redshirt senior George Campbell, with three. Campbell has not been used often but started the season strong, scoring touchdowns in each of the team’s first three contests. Campbell only has four receptions on the year and has not made a catch in the last three games.
Simmons said the important thing is for everyone to be ready to play every game.
“There’s definitely a mental aspect, we’ve got to be ready to go,” Simmons said. “Everybody’s got to be ready to go when their number’s called.”