Bruce Ready for Dual Role

For a player who finished his high school career with more than 6,000 all-purpose yards, you would expect Jeremy Bruce to be a guy that could fill various roles on the football team. This season, the sophomore from Beaver Falls, Pa. will do exactly that.

With a lack of proven depth both at the slot receiver and running back positions, head coach Rich Rodriguez will be calling on Bruce to contribute at both spots. According to Jeremy, that's just fine.

"I'm going to try to do as much as I can to help out the offense," says the former Blackhawk Cougar. "Obviously I'd like to catch a few balls, maybe run a few reverses, but my main goal is to help out the offense however they need me to, and help out the team."

As a true freshman during the 2005 season, Bruce quickly broke into the rotation at receiver. While that was good for him from a playing time standpoint, he admits that there was a lot of information to soak in at one time. After a year in the system though, Bruce says he's more comfortable than he's ever been.

"Last year as a freshman I was put in there right away and my head was spinning a little bit," he says. "The main thing I learned is that you have to approach things one at a time. I would get really frustrated with myself and down on myself. I've learned to calm down, take things one at a time, and as a result I've learned the offense a lot better.

"It's a lot easier for me in this camp now as a sophomore now that I know the offense and I know how to read the defense," he continues. "I'm a lot more comfortable."

While he'll be counted on in both the slot and at running back behind Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt, Bruce openly admits that he's focusing more on the slot receiver role right now.

"I played running back in high school, and this is my second year playing slot receiver. I'm getting more comfortable with both right now, but my main position right now is slot receiver because that's where they need me the most."

Bruce's numbers from the 2005 season may not seem like much (three catches for 26 yards) but when given the opportunity to contribute, he did solid work. His catch while tiptoeing the sidelines against Wofford was one of the season's most impressive catches. He also found himself on the wrong end of a few big hits from opponents. The 5'9" 185 pound speedster says it's all part of the job.

"I'm a little guy, and I run around out there, but I'm not scared. I'm not afraid to hit or get hit, and I know going across the middle from the slot that's going to happen. We're usually the ones that get hit the most."

Whether it's going over the middle to catch a pass, or taking a handoff up the middle from Pat White, Bruce is ready to do whatever it takes for the Mountaineers to win another Big East Championship.

"The more positions a player can play, that's better for the offense and better for the team. Playing a dual role like that is good for the team. I get a little tired every now and then, and sometimes my head's spinning, but I like it. I like having more than one role."

That role (or roles) could pay big dividends for the Blue and Gold in 2006.

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