MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia has a talented group at the wide receiver position but one player hoping to leave his mark this season is redshirt freshman Sam Brown.
In his freshman season, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound wide out appeared in eight games and had eight receptions for 92 yards. However, Brown’s first season with the Mountaineers was unique.
Because of COVID-19, WVU missed their spring session in 2020. Last season was also different because of the shortened season and all of the COVID protocols.
It made the game completely different for newcomers during their most developmental times.
“Coach Brown and all of us, I think everyone would say how hard that was and how unfair that was for our young guys coming in last year because the physical component but also the mental component,” offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said. “I’ll say publicly without getting too much into it, that it’s very difficult to get guys ready to go when you don’t know how they’re going to respond to bad results or not help them respond to those. If you think about it, we didn’t have a spring and all these things to get through to help these guys get to a point mentally where they were ready to respond the right way.
“If you add the mental component and physically being able to prepare the same way because we’re all at home, it’s hard to get to that point. You would take Kevin Prather, who was here in January, and got to train with Mike Joseph and the strength staff, got to be around us and truly learn the offense in a really meeting room settings and not via zoom, I think that’s a big difference in a lot of ways.”
Now, Brown and the other redshirt freshman and sophomores have the chance to get that valuable time back.
The Savannah, Ga. native got the experience from last year in the free season. Also, he got the valuable spring meetings, practices and the chance to work with WVU’s strength staff.
On the Mountaineers’ depth chart, Brown is behind senior wide receiver Sean Ryan and he is in the thick to do big things this season.
“He has learned how to finally get in the mode where he moves in the emotions of it and just bare down and play fast and work,” Parker said. “He is right in the middle of that fight and competing. It’s good to see him get to that place, where before it was because he was young and it’s hard to do sometimes when you are distracted by all the things sometimes a young player is. Now, I think he’s just lost in that moment of getting to work, making plays and playing fast. The rest will just take care of itself. “
The New Hampstead graduate adds a physical presence to WVU’s receiving corps. His athleticism makes him special.
In high school, he excelled in basketball and track as well as football. Brown finished second at the state championship meet in the long jump (24-1).
His versatility allowed his former head coach Kyle Hockman to use him in so many roles on both sides of the ball. As a senior, Brown finished with 40 catches for 731 yards, an average of 18.2 yards per catch and 11 touchdowns. He was named the 5A-Region 2 Player of the Year.
With the Mountaineers, it is about finding the right role for Brown.
“He also has this big, strong body,” Parker said. “He can run and jump. He’s got measurable and genetics that are off the charts so hence the reason they did so much with him. Here, he’s learned that it’s much harder at times to be good at one thing and not be able to do a ton.
“So, what we had to do and the consistency in practice habits and all those things because at certain times and I was guilty of it you play at a place and you are able to do things and not have to practice all the time at the highest level to earn the spot, where as here with competition and everything of a good room and an improving room, if you don’t bring that everyday it’s hard to get involved. His consistency of all that is going to allow him to use all these tools because he’s gifted beyond measure,” Parker continued.
Brown has time to continue to improve before the Mountaineers’ season-opener on September 4 at Maryland.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS