Entering your fifth season in a program should mean you are ready to command a large workload. For Sam James, that workload is coming and according to his wide receiver coach Tony Washington, he is more than ready.
In the past four seasons at West Virginia, wide receiver Sam James has seen it all. James, who is from Richmond Hill, Georgia, came to WVU in 2018. That year, the Mountaineers had a receiver threat combination of David Sills and Gary Jennings. Those two combined for 1,903 yards and 28 touchdowns. James was a freshman that season, using his redshirt, and appearing in only two games.
Since that season, James has seen a lot of change. A new coaching staff and quarterback in 2019, and then another quarterback change down the road in the same season. Now, a new offensive coordinator, with a new quarterback, and a new system, James will have the chance to be one of the top options for West Virginia’s offense this season.
Last season was a career best for James. Although he did not set a career-high in receiving yards, James did finish with a career-high five touchdowns to go along with 507 yards on 42 receptions. James used his speed to get downfield, averaging 12.1 yards per reception.
New wide receivers coach Tony Washington has asked a lot of James and fellow veteran receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton. Washington said James has had a really good start to fall camp and he has put together good repeat performances.
If I had to say day in, day out, Sam James is just a guy who I would really say when you talk about repeat performances,” Washington said.
James, who stands at 6-foot, 176 pounds, is not the tallest receiver in the world, but Washington has challenged James to continue to play fast.
“Coming in everyday and playing fast, making plays. He always seems to pop up on the film,” Washington said of James. “You go out there and you know he had a good day and then you watch the film and realize that right now he’s playing at a different than he even was in the spring. I think when guys are confident and they know what to do that’s when they play their fastest and right now he’s confident, he knows what he’s doing and it’s allowing him to play at a different speed.”
Part of the reason for the rise in success for James is the confidence he is gaining said Washington.
“To me it’s night and day. He was always confident, but right now he’s confident and he knows,” Washington said. “Guys who are confident but they don’t know what they’re doing it’s not the same. But when you know what you’re doing and you’re being confident, obviously with a new offensive coordinator, new wide receiver coach, new playbook, there’s going to be some things he had to learn. But he’s done a phenomenal job learning it and now he’s playing with confidence. He’s using the techniques of what I think he should do and we’re seeing things the same way and now I really think he’s playing at a high level.”
James will look to contribute in a new system, that is faster and uses receivers more than he has experienced in the past. James and the Mountaineers will look to try and have the higher paced offense bring success to WVU this season.