MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Heading into his third season as the head coach of the West Virginia University football team, Neal Brown is implementing new changes to help get the Mountaineers to the top of the Big 12 standings.
Brown and his coaching staff have made strides of improvement but they really want the Mountaineers to become elite.
One thing he is hoping will get the team where it needs to be is by letting some of the veteran players pave the way with his new leadership program and weekly meetings with them.
“What we are doing is we are trying to transition from a coach led team to a player led team,” Brown said. “It’s a transition we should be able to make if we have the right guys going in year three. When you have teams that nobody leads, they are not very good or poor teams. When you have coach led teams they are about average but when you have player led teams, you have a chance to be elite. That’s what we’re trying to be. With our offseason teams we have 10 captains and we have weekly captain meetings. What they do, we give them some say so they make some decisions in there. Also, try to get the problems from the team. I always open the meetings up with what are our issues and how can I help on anything that’s going on. Then we pick a teammate of the week.
” I think it’s important somebody that’s there best teammate on their accountability teams. Then we usually have some kind of lesson or they present something that they have found. It’s good. We got a good group and they are mature. They’re taking that leadership role seriously. But will it benefit us as a team, I think that is to be determined in how we react in some tough adverse situations when you really need leadership.”
Some players that are included in the leadership group are senior safety Alonso Addae and running back Leddie Brown.
Both players are upperclassman and have been around the game and the program for several seasons.
“Coach Brown is looking for somebody that’s going to call everybody out, even his friends, no matter who it is, their roommate or anybody,” L. Brown said. “He wants everybody on the same page, just a responsible person that’s willing to step up and take on that leadership role and speak to the team when the teams down, bring the team up when their down and stuff like that.”
For Brown, this is something out of the norm for him but he is working on becoming the leader his teammates need by attending these meetings at least once a week and discussing different leadership acts.
“I’m pretty laid back so I have to push myself to do that,” L. Brown said. “For me, it’s him telling me what I did good that week in a leadership standpoint and what I didn’t and can approve on.”
However, the sixth-year senior Addae is more adapt for the leadership role and is embracing it with open arms.
“As an older guy on the defense, I’m looking to set an example for everybody else on the field,” Addae said. “A lot of the younger guys, I remember being in that position where I’m coming in as a freshman or sophomore or whatever the case may be and looking up to the older guys. I’m a sixth year senior at this point so I have no excuse. I know what is expected. I know what we need to do. I’m looking to show the guys what needs to be done day in and day out.”
Whether the new leadership style will positively affect the team is still to be determined. But it is something that will hopefully bond the players and test them during the times of adversity.
Cover Photo Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports