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April 29, 2013
Connor Arlia caught only seven passes for 43 yards a season ago, but due to a number of departures at the wide receiver position is one of the most experienced options returning for West Virginia. This spring that experience has forced the junior into one of the leadership roles in the group.
Gone from the ranks are Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and J.D. Woods and in their place is a collection of widely unknown commodities looking to become the next wide outs to make their name known in Dana Holgorsen's offensive system.
It's a role that isn't new to Arlia, as he has been accustomed to being the underdog for most of his life.
"I've always been a fan of that. That's probably what we are, people don't know a lot about us, but we're just going to put in the work and the effort we need to every day," he said. "And hopefully god willing we show people what we're going to do this year."
For Arlia this spring had a much different ring to it than a season ago when the Mountaineers entered riding the wave of a historic Orange Bowl performance as opposed to a depressing defeat in the snow in the Pinstripe Bowl.
"I know more and I do have that experience. I feel more confident personally I really know what I'm doing but even I need to just keep grinding and working hard," he said.
Although Arlia has been singled out by his teammates and coaches for his efforts, he is quick to point out his shortcomings and areas that he needs to raise the level of his game.
"I missed a block on a screen and it was the second time I missed it this spring so I'm frustrated about that and need to work on that," he said. "They let me know I missed it, but I don't mind because the coaches coach us hard."
Arlia knows that fans have no idea what to expect out of the group heading into the fall, but the challenge isn't looking back at what the Mountaineers did have, it's moving forward.
Because at times last year the group could be guilty of relying on Austin and Bailey to make plays, and that luxury won't be there this season.
"We can only control what we do every day in the classroom, what we do every day in the weight room, what we do on the field and I think if we just keep pushing and stay focused I think we'll be in good shape," he said.
And while there are many questions to be answered out of the group, one thing that has been a strength to this point has been the willingness of these wide receivers to go hard on every play, which should only lead to positives down the road.
"We're doing it full go," he said.
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