Work Ahead

Despite stocking up on talent in the 2010 signing class, WVU wide receivers Coach Lonnie Galloway has a lot of work to do this spring. Not only will he be replacing two veteran passcatchers in Wes Lyons and Alric Arnett, but he will also be helping incoming freshman Deon Long adjust to college life and football.

With the loss of Arnett and Lyons to graduation, the receivers will be led by redshirt junior Bradley Starks. Starks offers up the most experience of the otherwise young wide receivers. During his two years of playing experience, Starks has put up solid numbers but will undoubtedly be called upon for a much bigger role in the offense this season.

"Bradley could be so good," said Galloway. "That's the thing I try to strive for with him. He's 6'3" and could be 200 pounds and can run. You're not Mr. Basketball in the state of Virginia just because they want to give it to you. He's a great athlete. He just has to really want it. He could be special in this league. He's going to work more than he thinks he is this spring. He's not going to just have it off."

Three's clearly a message in that statement to Starks, who has harbored hopes of returning to quarterback at times during his Mountaineer career. Galloway is hoping that Starks will grow to reach the potential that he sees in the receiver – potential that could be of the NFL variety. The coach is already pleased with the progression that Starks has made as the soft spoken receiver has worked to become more aggressive on the field.

"He needs to realize he could be very special in this league," said Galloway. "He's faster than [Alric] Arnett. He's progressed from not wanting to be aggressive. If you watch some of his games from this year, when he's blocking, he is basically trying to go in and kill. He has to realize that Arnett and Wes [Lyons] are gone. No he's not a senior but he's the oldest one in the room. He's going to have to step it up and I think he's willing to."

Although Starks is the obvious front runner at wide receiver going into the spring, Galloway has stressed that every player will have to work to secure their position. Whether a senior or an incoming freshman, every player will be able to earn a position on the first team.

"I'm going to play the [person] that works the hardest," said Galloway. "It doesn't matter if you say ‘Coach, I want the ball.' Show me that you deserve the ball. I don't care if you're not getting the ball."

The receivers will be getting some more competition for their positions. On top of the incoming freshman, sophomore Tavon Austin has made the transition from slotback/tailback to receiver and is currently listed at the starting position at wide receiver alongside Starks. Jock Sanders also returns as a starter in the slot.

"[Austin] is a tailback but he can either be a first team receiver of a second team tailback," said Galloway. "He's going to be a second team tailback. You're not going to beat Noel [Devine] out. Tavon is explosive. He can catch and run. He's going to help us out there. He needs to be on the field."

The move has nothing to do with Austin's inability to perform at tailback but more to do with West Virginia's need for the sophomore to be on the field and trying to find a place to work him into the offense where he could contribute.

"If Noel [Devine] would have left, [Austin] would have been a tailback," said Galloway. "But [Devine didn't leave] and that's good. We're happy that Noel and Jock [Sanders] are back. We're not trying to make a receiver out of a tailback. He already has the skills. He made some big catches. He's caught a lot of balls. He's a great athlete."

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