Looking To Lead

The success of West Virginia University's passing game in 2005 could fall squarely onto the shoulders of one man: Brandon Myles.

The 6-foot-3 wide receiver boasts the most experience amongst returning pass catchers, and will be relied upon to provide a reliable target for the WVU starting quarterback-to-be, as well as a mentor to a potential-laden, but inexperienced, receiving corps.

"I'm taking on a bigger role as a leader," Myles said. "We have a lot of young guys so we have a lot to work on in the passing game."

But as Myles is shoved into a leadership role as he enters his senior campaign (he could earn another year of eligibility by graduating this year, which he is on track to do), he must also overcome own lapses in performance that have proven to be a hindrance in his growth as a go-to receiver in Rich Rodriguez's spread offense.

Myles entered the 2004 season with high expectations. Playing opposite Chris Henry, the coaching staff felt the Goochland, Va. native was poised to have a breakout year. Myles was expected to be a reliable second receiver to take attention and double teams away from Henry.

On the first play of the 2004 season, Myles did just that. Quarterback Rasheed Marshall found him streaking down the right sideline against East Carolina, and the lanky receiver pulled in the pass for a 51-yard gain. It was his only catch of the game, but it set up a touchdown run by Jason Colson. Henry caught four passes in the game, and suddenly defensive coordinators had more of a reason to fret about the Mountaineer passing attack.

In the second game of the season, against Central Florida, Myles struck again. This time, he took a short screen pass from Marshall and dashed 57 yards for his first career touchdown. Unfortunately for Myles and West Virginia, his first two catches of the season accounted for 108 of his season total of 138 receiving yards.

"Consistency," Myles said matter of factly. "It's the number one thing I have to work on."

Myles caught just four passes for 30 yards in the final 11 games of a season that was also plagued by injuries.

"I'm working on improving my route running," Myles said. "Working on the timing with the quarterbacks. Just getting the little things down."

West Virginia graduated its top four pass catchers from last season. The leading returning receiver is Colson, who caught 12 balls in 2004. Myles was next on the list with six. Despite that, he is expected to be the leader at a position that has struggled since head coach Rich Rodriguez took over in 2001.

"I know everyone is counting on me," Myles said. "I'm just going to work hard with the routes and just be more consistent. I will be ready."

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