Ready For Impact?

When asked about a shoulder injury that caused the redshirt freshman to miss the Mountaineers' biggest victory of the season against Auburn, Bradley Starks brushes off the issue that kept him out of that game.

Saying he is back to full health, Starks, who missed that game and parts of many practices due to the injury, is poised, at least in his mind, to up his contributions to the Mountaineer offensive attack. Even though he played through the injury at times, Starks doesn't believe that it affected his performance.

"You don't really feel it when you're playing in practice or games. It's when you're out of the game that you feel it the most," Starks said of the shoulder problem.

Getting back to full health has given Starks the chance to finally make the full transition to wide receiver. However, with Jarrett Brown's leg and shoulder woes, as well as Patrick White's bumps and hurts, the Virginia native has been seeing time at both wide receiver and at his recruited position of quarterback.

"I'm happy at wide receiver. I like wide receiver a lot but I'm always a quarterback at heart," Starks said.

Starks knows, however, that this year his most likely avenue to playing time is on the receiving, not throwing, end of passes. He had what many viewed as a breakout spring at the spot, but the shoulder injury plus some early ballhandling problems relegated him to the sidelines. However, his most recent game may have finally put him back in position to help West Virginia's anemic passing game.

Wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway was pleased with the 6'3" 185-pounder's effort in the Mountaineers' loss to Cincinnati. Starks had two catches against the Bearcats for 32 yards to help spark WVU's fourth quarter rally.

"Bradley did a great job for us Saturday night (against Cincinnati) with Alric (Arnett) getting banged up and then Wes (Lyons) getting banged up. We hadn't played him in awhile but he responded. That was a good thing to see," Galloway said.

The question remains, though. Is that enough to get Starks more time on the field? An all-state quarterback at Orange County High School in Unionville, Va., who was also named District Player of the Year, Starks is continuing to adapt to his modified role this year. Despite playing the majority of his football career as the playmaker, Starks is happy with the progress that he has made while taking on a new position.

"I think I have been doing fine with my progress (as a wide receiver.) I don't think I have had any problems with moving to wide receiver or getting adjusted to it. I think it kind of came natural and I fell into it," Starks said.

As Starks continues to progress as a wide receiver, he hopes to work on his blocking technique. He credits upperclassmen like Tito Gonzales, Dorrell Jalloh, and Wes Lyons with helping him work on his blocking technique.

"I still want to work on my technique, route running, my blocking. I want to go over everything as a wide receiver and get better," Starks said.

Starks is hoping to prove himself as a force on the offense and see more playing time as the season winds down. Coach Galloway foresees Starks becoming a bigger part of the offense as well.

"You don't know how long Wes (Lyons) and Alric (Arnett) will be out. He showed some good things Saturday night so he will continue to play. He‘s a smart kid. He knows what to do," Coach Galloway said of Starks, who may have the most athletic ability of any of WVU's wideouts.

With the Mountaineers continuing to try to incorporate more passing into the offense, Starks will likely continue to see time and improve at wide receiver position. If he can come up with plays like he did in the final 15 minutes against Cincinnati, he could be one of the keys to helping WVU's offense shake its inconsistency.

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