Leadership Styles

The 2003 edition of the Mountaineer football team should have a solid group of leaders, but will there be enough variety to meet the different situations that the squad will face this year?

Grant Wiley. Rasheed Marshall. Lance Frazier. Brian King. Quincy Wilson. Todd James.

All of these players will be leaders on this year's squad, but that's not the only thing they have in common. None of these players are noted for being big talkers -- their leadership styles tend to be more of the "by example" variety rather than of the "in your face" style.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with that at all. Talk, in many instances, is overrated. However, there are times when a verbal spanking or words of encouragement are also required.

That leaves a pair of questions to be answered. Can players who aren't accustomed to being outspoken leaders change their style? And who, among WVU's seniors, might step into that role?

One coach who is watching the leadership question closely is quarterbacks coach Bill Stewart. As the man charged with tutoring the most visible leaders on the team, he has an upfront view of what makes a leader and how his styles can be changed to fit the needs of the team.

"I think some of our seniors have a different style of leadership, but I think they will get after people (verbally) when they have to," Stewart said. "I think they will rise to the occasion, and there will be enough guys to bark out there when they need to.

"But, you have to let people lead in the way they know how to and are comfortable with. You can help, you can motivate and you can encourage, but you have to let people lead in the manner they are accustomed to."

In Stewart's opinion, therefore, leaders can change their styles, but they can't be forced or rushed into doing so. However, players, as they become more polished performers, can also become more confident in their leadership roles, whihc might allow them to be a bit more vocal.

On offense, we see quarterback Rasheed Marshall stepping into that role. Last year, as a sophomore who was still learning with every snap, Rasheed might not have been as comfortable speaking to seniors as he will this year as a junior with a year and a half of experience under his belt.

In interviews over the summer, Rasheed has demonstrated a sense of ease and increased comfort, which could well be outgrowths of his leadership role on the team.

On defense, Leandre Washington, although only a two year player, could be the person who might fit the bill of vocal leader. Washington exudes confidence and enthusiasm, and if he can back it up on the field with solid play, might well be the guy to light a fire under the defense when necessary.

Bernard Russ. Barrett Green. Mike Baker. All of those WVU alumni provided voluble leadership for Mountaineer teams of years past. As WVU searches for the right mix of leadership styles this year, that list will be awaiting the addition of a few more names.

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