In the leadup to the 2020 college football season, West Virginia coach Neal Brown pegged sophomore receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton as a candidate for a break-out season. Ford-Wheaton set career highs in receptions (27) yards (416) and touchdowns (three), but fell well short of the break-out season Brown talked about.
Not swayed by last year’s modest production, Brown is placing high expectation on Ford-Wheaton again this offseason.
“I think just consistency, his confidence,” Brown told reporters last month. “He’s had a great winter, he’s uber-talented, he’s intelligent, he knows our offense in and out and I think it’s time. I think he’s ready to take that next step and I think he can be one of the better receivers in our league.”
Brown, Ford-Wheaton and offensice coordinator Gerad Parker have all talked about the need for WVU’s receiver to be more consistent in 2021.
“It’s a group that really needs to get lost in the work,” Parker said. “We just need to get lost in the work and not get too high when we play well and don’t get too low if something bad happens. Just get lost in the work and go have fun playing.”
West Virginia’s entire receiving corps struggled with consistency in 2020, but perhaps none as clearly as Ford-Wheaton. The North Carolina native posted five games with over 50 receiving yards but had less than 30 in four others.
“I think my biggest thing is consistency and just doing it every game,” Ford-Wheaton said Wednesday. “Not just one game or two games, I want to be a factor every game.”
Now a redshirt-junior, Ford-Wheaton has played in 20 games and is no longer an inexperienced underclassman.
“My mindset going into this season is that I’ve already got my feet wet, I’ve already started multiple games so now I know what I need to do,” he said. “There shouldn’t be anymore pregame jitters, anything like that.”
Ford-Wheaton said the most important thing he can do to take that next step is just to catch the ball more. WVU quarterbacks threw a lot of deep balls Ford-Wheaton’s way last season but did not connect very often.
” I think I’m capable of making big-time plays and big-time catches so I think I just need to go out and prove that,” Ford-Wheaton said. “When the ball’s in the air I think more people should think I’m going to catch it than not.”
WVU’s spring practices continue this weekend, with back-to-back practices scheduled for Friday and Saturday.