Following a breakout season from Leddie Brown, the WVU running back group will look to carry momentum into the 2021 season.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to accomplish is being able to have success in different run schemes,” WVU running backs coach Chad Scott said. “Two years ago, we were really good at outside zone, last year [we were really] good at inside zone.”
The Mountaineers will be without last year’s second string, Alec Sinkfield. Sinkfield entered the transfer portal in January, eventually committing to Boston College. With the departure of Sinkfield, two younger running backs will step up to replace Sinkfield’s productivity.
Tony Mathis Jr. and A’varius Sparrow will see a jump in reps in 2021. Next season, Mathis will be a redshirt sophomore and Sparrow will be a sophomore.
Mathis rushed 18 times for 55 yards, with one touchdown in the 2020 season. The 5-foot-11 running back appeared in the Eastern Kentucky game on Sept. 12 in week one.
Sparrow—in his freshman campaign—rushed three times during the season, recording 10 yards. The Orlando, Florida native appeared in the Kansas game in the 2020 season.
Scott is seeing great improvement from both Mathis and Sparrow during the spring practices and scrimmages.
“He [Mathis] did some stuff that was really great to see,” Scott said. “I’ve seen glimpses of it but to see him do it repeatedly play after play was really good.”
“That was his [Sparrow] best practice since he’s been here,” Scott said. “He’s got phenomenal speed but playing a running back position we tell him all the time to understand how to run the tracks and bring defenders into your blocks.”
The West Virginia offense will rely heavily on returning starter Leddie Brown to carry the weight this season. Brown had an amazing season in 2020, scoring 11 touchdowns and recording 1,200 scrimmage yards. The soon-to-be senior finished second in the conference in rushing yards with 1,010.
Brown had five games of at least 100 rushing yards in a single game, while also scoring in five-straight games.
(Top Photo: Grant Dovey)