Last season, Leddie Brown had a breakout season for West Virginia. In 10 games, Brown rushed for 1,010 yards and became a force for this offense.
“Last year was a statement year,” Brown said. “Going into the season, nobody thought we would run the ball as good as we did, but we did it, and we made a point.”
Heading into this season however, things are different for Brown compared to this time last year. The biggest difference—everyone knows he can play at a high level. Brown was named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List which is given to the best running back in college football and finished last season on the All-Big 12 First Team.
With all of that being said, one may think that Brown hasn’t had much to get better at this summer, but between getting ready for his next steps after college football, or trying to diversify his skillset within the offense. Brown has been a constant learner, trying to get better at many new skills.
On April 29, 2020, Brown sent running back’s coach Chad Scott a text. The text read, “I’m tired of being overlooked, I’m going to ball coach.”
After he sent that text Scott said, Brown has done everything he can to mentally prepare and has shown the ability to be one of the leaders of this football team.
“From that point he just took off from a maturity standpoint and a leadership standpoint,” Scott said.
That type of leadership and type of commitment is what you want from your senior, and star running back.
One of the biggest area’s that Brown has tried to work on, along with Scott is to be better outside of just running the ball. In 2019, Brown caught the ball 17 times, and last season that total almost doubled, with Brown catching 31 passes for 202 yards. Scott and Brown don’t want to stop there. This summer, they have been working to set Brown up as a receiver and let him make plays on the outside of the field, also allowing him to take less of a beating than he would by running through the tackles up front.
“We lined them up outside the receiver and let him run some routes down the field. He’s got a great great skill set, got great ball skills and so it’d be good for us to show his skill set his ability to be a catch ball outside of catching ball at running back,” Scott said.
Scott later adding, “one of my biggest projects this off season was to find like non-traditional touches, ways we can get him the ball without physically handing it to him and letting him take the pounding. So we’ve done a great job of that in the springtime repping it and then we’re doing it right now so we got a couple non-traditional ways we determine to get him the ball without handing it to him so he can get those touches without taking the pounding.”
This type of versatility is key for Brown. He knows his game is also suited well for the next level and he tries to work with Scott on becoming a more complete back.
“Me and Coach Scott spend a lot of time just watching film on other running backs, especially NFL running backs that catch the ball out of the backfield,” Brown said. “I always just had a natural ability of catching the ball. I did it a lot in high school playing running back and slot receiver.”
However far this offense goes this season, will almost be as far as Brown can take them. The Big 12 knows Brown can run, but the key will be can they stop him. Another big season from Brown, and West Virginia could find itself near the top of the Big 12 standings, and Brown could find himself hearing his name called in April.
Photo by Dale Sparks, WVU