Dykes: "Don't Throw Them Too Much Sugar"

Much like two seasons ago, West Virginia is working with a top rated tailback that has never taken a collegiate snap – and yet is the topic of more stories and conversations than are warranted. So West Virginia's judge issued a warning.

Senior Keilen Dykes counseled the freshmen not to become complacent, despite what teammates are saying about them. Dykes, a defensive tackle entering his fourth season as a starter, noted that wideout Brandon Hogan "catches everything and turns up field. Out of all the freshmen he has been really impressive."

Then came the advice in the form of a verbal dagger dressed with humor.

"You never know," Dykes said. "We had a guy once before that was this and that and he is back at home. You don't want to throw them too much sugar."

The 6-5, 295-pound all-Big East performer – and who wants to argue with THAT – appears noticeably larger in terms of physical size and his leadership role. Always a talker from his first days, Dykes has moved into the role of a proven senior who refuses to hesitate when he sees actions that need correcting. The freshmen don't run on the field, there's Dykes, telling them to do it the first time, demanding that they do it should it happen again.

"We will take care of (any freshmen thinking he is bigger than the program) in the locker room," said Dykes, meaning not any hazing practices but rather that it would be addressed there by the team before it went on too long. "Sometimes you have to talk to them, sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's lead by example and push on through. It's making sure the guys run on the field, making sure they do the little things to make sure we will be all right."

The allusion to, and indeed outright example of former tailback Jason Gwaltney and his comparison to current tailback Noel Devine was an easy one for Dykes. The two were the top rated tailbacks in the country, signed with West Virginia and were/are expected to perform at a high level immediately. The Youngstown, Ohio native simply wants to ensure that players are performing at better-than-par, that there is little slacking and less of the sort of half-effort from Hogan, Devine or any others that turned Gwaltney – who ran 45 times for 186 yards and three scores in 2005, then nothing after that – from a perceived college beast into a bust in 18 months.

"I'm really trying to step up and be a leader," Dykes said. "I'm trying to get the guys out there to do a little bit extra and be a complete player both on and off the field. There are players who have to prove a lot. They are bringing in better players. But those players have to want to get better."


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