West Virginia WR Ford-Wheaton works to make the difficult, routine
For Bryce Ford-Wheaton this off-season and subsequently the spring was about improvement.
The senior wide receiver is coming off a season where he displayed flashes hauling in 42 passes for 575 yards and 3 touchdowns, but continued to deal with consistency issues.
Despite being equipped with plus size and athleticism; he has never quite been able to put it all together over the long haul once the games begin.
One of the areas Ford-Wheaton specifically paid a lot of attention to was in the area of contested catches. Last season he caught only 6 of the 14 attempts he had in those situations for a contested catch rate of only 42.9-percent.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, believes there is potential for a lot more.
“Making those like 80-20. Just practicing it. And the best way you can simulate it is doing it,” he said.
In order to accomplish that Ford-Wheaton worked with his fellow wide receivers this off-season in drills where he would go up and fight for the football at its highest point. The goal was to build mental real estate in those situations so it would translate in game situations. That did occur on back-to-back plays in the Gold-Blue game but the focus is making that the norm and not the exception.
The North Carolina native also spent a lot of time tracking the ball down on the new seeker machine in order to learn how to best position himself to haul in those difficult passes.
“It gets you better just putting the work in,” he said.
Ford-Wheaton is the leading returning receiver from the Mountaineers 2021 team and understands that it’s now or never to live up to his potential. He is excited for the changes made to the offense with the hiring of Graham Harrell as the offensive coordinator and has been consistent in practices.
Now, it’s about translating that over the long haul.
“Adapt or perish,” he added.
The Mountaineers are banking on everything coming together for the talented pass catcher where he can utilize his physical tools to make a difference on the field this fall. That starts with making tough catches in contested situations and further developing from there.
“It’s not a written rule but it’s something I’ve aimed for especially with my frame and size,” he said. “It should be more of an 80/20 ball anyways.”
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