Making the Move - Part Two

Part two of our conversation with Vaughn Rivers looks at other aspects of his switch to wide receiver, and the progress he has made so far.

In Part One, Rivers talked about the events that led up to the move, as well as the intricacies, including pattern-running, that he has had to work on after making the switch. There was more in store, however, as Rivers found out when the team began working on the running game, and the receivers' roles in it, were worked on. In West Virginia's run-oriented offense a great deal of attention is paid to how well the receivers block.

Seeing former receivers coach Steve Bird throw his hat and get in a wideout's face for a poor block was a common scene at Mountaineer Field over the last few football seasons, and little has changed with Jones in the fold.

"That wasn't really an emphasis (on blocking in high school)," admitted Rivers. "You just went out there and hit the man. Here, you have to take the right angles and read the defender's eyes. That has been a big adjustment."

Slowly but surely, though, Rivers has begun to pick things up. West Virginia's staff has been patient with the young athlete, and the patience has started to pay off.

"One of our [graduate] assistants, Todd Anderson, has been working with me every day," said Rivers. "That has been a big help. I have done a lot of film work and a lot of individual stuff to learn the routes and everything. I think I am starting to get it, and I am really enjoying the opportunity."

One of the intangibles that Rivers brings to the field is the ability to make something out of nothing. As a return man in high school, Rivers returned five punts and three kickoffs for touchdowns, and that ability could make him dangerous and elusive on reverses or receiver screens. In the annual Gold/Blue Scrimmage on April 16, Rivers showed his ability to be a playmaker on several occasions, and he hopes that will only increase when the regular season schedule heats up.

"I am hoping that is going to be something that I can do, especially when I get against some different opponents," explained Rivers. "Our defense is sitting on (the reverse) right now, because they know what we are going to do. Once we see some different opponents, hopefully I can really excel at that."

So far, though, what he has been able to do has been more than enough to satisfy his desires and keep him excited about his new position.

"I am going to stay there," said Rivers of his spot with the WVU wideouts. "I still have a lot of work to do, but I think I can do it. I am going to do a lot of conditioning (this summer) and work on my footwork. I have to be able to run perfect routes."

The man who pulled the switch in the middle of spring drills, Rodriguez, is pleased with how it has progressed to this point. "That is a move that will stay permanent," said West Virginia's head coach. "Not only does he have some speed, I think he brings a competitiveness that group really needs. Right now he still doesn't know what he's doing, but with just the little bit I saw, I'm sure with a couple of days of practice in the fall Vaughn could get one of those positions down. I think we've found a home for him, and I think it's going to work out great."

As for his old position, Rivers is not ready to leave it in the past. The chance to play on both sides of the football is something that is very intriguing to the former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22" selection.

"For now, I have been concentrated only on offense, but once we get into summer camps, I will probably take some repetitions with both sides," said Rivers. "I know most of the defense, but I need to get some more reps to stay fresh. I think I can really help out in some nickel and dime situations, though."

"He is smart enough that if we need help there he should be able to do that," agreed Rodriguez. "He will be mainly a receiver now, but we know he can help us if we need him."

No matter where he is playing, one thing is for sure — at least according to Rivers. On defense or on offense, the sophomore is going to make plays.

"I don't want to sound cocky, but I am confident that I can catch anything that comes my way," concluded Rivers. "Hopefully, I can take a couple to the house."

Rodriguez, Jones and thousands of Mountaineer fans will be keeping their fingers crossed.

This article originally appeared in the print edition of the Blue & Gold News, which contains features, columns, insights and photos you won't find anywhere else. Complete your insight into the Mountaineer scene by subscribing today!

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