When it comes to playing on kick coverage units, perhaps more than any other position group on the team, the game is all about attitude.
You can have either one of two mindsets when assigned to kick coverage duty: You can sulk because that means you’re probably not getting as much time at your natural position, or you can embrace the role, realizing special teams plays often turn the tides of games.
Despite being listed as a linebacker on the team’s official roster, Walters has seen the majority of his playing time during his career at WVU on special teams. Walters said he has come to relish his role over the past few years.
“I take a lot of pride in just giving more effort, and doing whatever I have to do to contribute to this team. Like Holgorsen said, it could be one play to where you get in. I take pride in that. I take pride in everyday just executing, flying around and making plays,” he said.
That’s exactly what West Virginia’s coverage units have done all season. Heading into this weekend’s matchup with Kansas, the Mountaineer kickoff coverage team ranks second in the Big 12, and the punt coverage unit has helped WVU to the second best punting average in the conference this season.
Walters said he attributed the special teams success West Virginia has enjoyed this year to a similar mindset across the board: Attacking every day with the end goal of improvement.
“(It comes down to) Consistency, going day in and day out, over and over again to the best of my abilities. Every day I try to get better, and with the team, that’s our motto. We’ll approach it the same way every day,” Walters said.
Consistency of effort and consistency of personnel have combined to help West Virginia showed marked improvement on special teams coverage this year. Safeties coach Joe DeForest, who also works with the special teams, said the leadership shown by experienced players have sparked the units’ turnaround.
“There’s a lot of energy on both those units, and some leadership. Between Nana (Kyeremeh), and Al-Rasheed (Benton) and Sean Walters, those guys have been around doing it for a while,” DeForest said.
“It’s like anything else. They’re one year older and they’re getting it. They’re playing more aggressive, and it means a lot to them. It’s their role, and they’re taking it to heart.”
Familiarity with their roles has helped players like Benton, Kyeremeh and Walters make an impact this season. Walters said the cohesiveness on special teams has made it possible to impact games more than ever.
“Everybody knows a little bit about what they’re doing now. They’re more aware. It’s just now, it’s a time when we’ve all been together for more than a year. I think the whole team is just gelling now. We’re just trying to get better every day,” he said.