Henderson Shows New Style of Breakaway

Most of the time, the term "breakaway" refers to a player's speed or elusiveness in avoiding tacklers. For wide receiver Miquelle Henderson, "breakaway" means something different.

Observers at WVU's fall football camp noticed something about Henderson immediately - he was breaking tackles and getting upfield far better than he did a season ago.

Henderson culminated two a day practices with an 8 catch, 91 yard day in last Saturday's scrimmage. Many of those yards came on runs after short receptions, where Henderson muscled by defensive backs.

So, what's changed?

"I worked hard in practice on catching and bursting upfield," Henderson explained. "You have to try to break tackles, and work on that every time you catch the ball."

There's no magic formula for the improvement Henderson has shown in this area. It's not a specific technique or move that he's worked on. Instead, Henderson believes it's a mental adjustment.

"It's more attitude than anything. It's not really something you can teach, or someone can san show you. When you catch the ball, you have to say, 'I'm going to go ten or fifteen hard yards.' You have to do that every snap in practice, whether it's against the defense or against air. That makes a big difference."

Wide receiver coach Steve Bird's number one mantra after the catch is 'get upfield'. He doesn't want players to make a series of fakes, or look around at pursuers. He simply wants them to secure the ball and get upfield. When his receivers do this, good things usually result.

Henderson has shown the ability to take the short slant or the stop route and turn it into a seven or ten yard gain. These types of plays are the staple of the spread offense, and if more receivers are able to master it, WVU's passing attack could be very good.

To that end, Henderson is trying to impart some of what he's learned to the new receivers on the team.

"It's something the younger guys have to see the older guys doing. If we're getting upfield, they'll see it and do it too.

"I feel real good (about the new receivers)," Henderson said with a smile. "We're excited about the offense and the wide receivers. The new guys are learning and getting better every day."

As a true sophomore, Henderson is already turning into a leader at his position. If he continues to improve at the rate he did during the past season, he might make his own breakaway into the ranks of the elite receivers in the conference.

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