Alford at ease heading into season

This time a year ago was a time of transition, not only for Mario Alford but for most of the receivers on the West Virginia football team.

With the losses of Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and JD Woods from the year before, the Mountaineers had lost a large majority of the production they got the year before, players like Alford were expected to do a lot more than expected in their first seasons.

But it took time for the junior college transfer to get adjusted to this level of football, and he struggled in his role at inside receiver - where many thought the speedy playmaker could take on a similar role Austin had excelled in so much - catching just a handful of passes in the first eight games before eventually getting passed up on the depth chart and moved back out to the outside receiver positions. That was when he broke out, catching 18 passes for 450 yards down the stretch during the last four games.

Now, he's ready to carry it over into his final season.

"The last four games, that was great," Alford said. "Now I just to boost that up. I'm just going to ball out this year."

Wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway said that for players like Alford and Kevin White who come to major college football programs from junior colleges, they usually have all the tools to be successful physically, but the mental adjustment is what takes time to figure out most of the time. That was the case with Alford during his junior campaign.

"If you can get a JC guy in the spring, it's great but we got him in the summer," Galloway said of Alford's arrival a year ago.

"So you only got 29 days of practice before the first game and then you've got to be rolling."

Understanding and feeling comfortable at the position he's playing has contributed to the success Alford has had preparing for his final season. Knowing he's going to be slotted in at an outside receiver position and having that late-season success to build off of has made him work even harder.

"It makes me feel a lot more comfortable because I can work on my game at that spot. I've been working on fade routes and coming out of my breaks," Alford said. "I just needed to work on my craft a lot and staying out there has made it easier to get comfortable."

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