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Adversity is nothing wide receiver Bryce Wheaton can’t handle



Photo credit: 247 Sports

In 2015, current West Virginia wide receiver Bryce Wheaton popped onto the scene and quickly emerged as Holly Springs (NC) top threat in the passing game. As a sophomore, he totaled 28 receptions for 311 yards and four touchdowns. He was a true mismatch for many corners with his long and big frame which made him an instant red zone target.  His junior campaign took a little bit of a dip with 14 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns in a mainly run-first offense.

Then, adversity hit.

In the most crucial year of a high school players recruitment, Wheaton injured his shoulder which forced him to miss six games during his senior season. While many players were out there playing with their brothers in the final year of their high school career and trying to reel in offers, Wheaton had to watch much of the season from the sidelines. What’s even more impressive, is that he was named the teams offensive MVP of the year, despite missing over half of the season. Wheaton made his pledge to the Mountaineers the summer heading into his final year, so although he wasn’t necessarily “on the market” per se, it could have stumped his development. However, that was not the case.

Today, West Virginia head coach Neal Brown seemed very unhappy with some of the attitude and effort by the majority of the team, but did note that Wheaton, who is now a redshirt freshman, was not one of those guys. “He will be our most improved player from spring ball. He had a lot of adversity in the spring. He got coached harder than some of the other guys and he didn’t tuck his tail, he went to work. He’s as talented as any guy in our program,” Brown said.

After redshirting in 2018, Wheaton now seems poised for a breakout season. “I have adapted a different mentality going into workouts now. Coach Mike [Joseph] and the strength staff have done a really good job developing players this year. It’s been a lot of fun this summer,” Wheaton said. “It [last year] was a learning experience. I knew coming in here that I had David Sills and Gary [Jennings] and everybody in front of me, so I basically just really wanted to learn from them. I don’t think I was ready to play last year, physically,” he added.

Wheaton is a third generation Mountaineer, with his grandfather (Garrett Ford Sr.) and uncle (Garrett Ford Jr.) having both played for West Virginia as running backs. The gold and blue is something that has been instilled in him since he was young. He told the media that the first Mountaineer game he attended was when he was around six months old, although he doesn’t remember it. When asked if he felt pressured to go to West Virginia he responded, “I had a choice. They [his family] didn’t put any pressure on me, I just made the decision myself. I wanted to carry on the legacy.”

With the majority of this years receiver group being young and inexperienced, Wheaton will have as good a chance as anyone to become one of “the guys”. Learning from last years group was huge in his development.  After a tough spring, he now seems back on track and ready to prove that he has what it takes to be the next guy in line.

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