In the midst of all the noise surrounding West Virginia football, there is a group of athletes who have showed their dedication and are standing out at practice — the running back room.
Running back coach Chad Scott is impressed by the group’s performance during spring ball, describing them as the most talented room he’s worked with.
Scott recognizes the talent of all of the backs in rotation, but the player that stands out to him most is Redshirt Junior Tony Mathis.
“Tony Mathis is having a really good spring for us,” Scott said. “Right now, he’s taking the game to another level.”
Scott said Mathis’ competitiveness and discipline contributes to his success on the field.
According to Scott, Mathis recently came to him and asked how to improve his game, something that stuck out to him as a coach.
“I was very honest with him, and it didn’t always sound good,” Scott said. Mathis took Scott’s critiques and “worked his butt off in the offseason.”
With Mathis’ improvement within the last year, Scott plans to utilize him in the passing game. At spring practices, Mathis catches three to four balls a day.
Implementing the running backs into the passing game will allow for a two-back scheme, says Scott. Sophomore Justin Johnson may be next in line in the slot, as Scott says he has done a “phenomenal job on the lead block”.
“Justin Johnson has taken a huge step forward. He understands the offense really well,” Scott said.
Jaylen Anderson and Lyn-J Dixon have also been consistent at practice and are in the rotation for the Mountaineers.
The success of the running backs relies not only on the backs themselves, but also the offensive line. Scott says that chemistry and trust within the line led by junior Zach Frazier allows the backs to be successful.
As the spring game approaches, Scott is excited about the group and hopes to see even more progress from his players as they continue to learn.
“It’s challenging, and they enjoy it,” said Scott. “It makes it fun to coach when they know what they’re doing.”
Photo by Wesley Shoemaker