Lyon's Share Of Labor

Wes Lyons has all the physical tools to be a threat in the West Virginia passing game. This spring and summer, he has furthered his mental approach as well.

Lyons, a seemingly perfect jump-ball target at 6-8, 220 pounds, struggled to grasp the Mountaineer offense and perfect blocking techniques last season. His lanky frame makes it difficult to gain leverage against always-shorter defensive backs and linebackers, and his 4.6 speed in the 40 is evidence that Lyons might never be the true deep threat many taller receivers become. That leaves the Monroeville, Pa. native at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of adhering to fans expectations, but it has yet to hinder his own.

"I am trying to get the ball," Lyons said, acknowledging that he knows fans have pressed WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez to throw more, specifically in the vicinity of Lyons. "I am doing what I can do to better myself and the team. I have some individual goals, but I will keep them to myself. I want to do what is going to help the team."

It's an oft-repeated line, though one that, with Lyons, might ring truer than from most others. Lyons played as a true freshman, but snagged just four passes for 39 yards and no touchdowns. Even when West Virginia entered the red zone, an area where Lyons would seem to thrive, he was never the target of a fade route. He did break through in the Gold-Blue spring game with three catches for 76 yards, including one from quarterback Adam Bednarik for 46 yards and a score. But fans remain befuddled as to why he wasn't thrown to more, something Rodriguez addressed during spring practice.

"Just because you're tall doesn't mean you're ready," Rodriguez said. "He's got to work harder to get ready and hopefully he'll do that. Wes has got some talent and it's important to him but it's time for Wes to take the next step."

Lyons said he has gotten stronger and faster in the offseason and learned how to approach college football, a skill he lacked when he chose West Virginia over Ohio State coming out of Woodland Hills High. Lyons led to Wolverines to a 10-3 record and the WPIAL Class AAAA title game while catching 62 passes for 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior.

"I learned how to step up into the position," Lyons said. "It was a learning basis and we had time to learn (in the spring). But it was different with (new receivers) coach (Tony) Dews. He brought his style of coaching in with us being used to coach (Butch) Jones (who left to take the head coaching position at Central Michigan). But I feel like I am much better. I am older, too, so I am more mature. I had my ups and downs because some days I came out there and I felt like practicing and other days I came out there dragging. Now I am motivated to practice."

Lyons will try to break in with a receiving corps without a major threat outside of slot wideout Darius Reynaud. Nate Sowers, Dorrell Jalloh, Carmen Connolly, Jeremy Bruce, Tito Gonzales and at least six others will attempt to prove a solid two-deep of eight to 10 players during fall camp as a much-needed compliment to the Mountaineer rushing game, which ranked first in the Big East for the third straight season and second nationally last year.

"To throw the ball, we have to have viable options to throw to," Rodriguez said. "But we can throw it."

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