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Final Grades: Running Back Leddie Brown Emerges as a Star For WVU in 2020



Leddie Brown
(photo via Oklahoma State Athletics)

This will be an ongoing series with WVSN’s Cody Nespor and Tom Bragg grading the performance of each position group during the 2020 West Virginia University football season. A new position will be graded each day. We graded the quarterbacks on Tuesday — today we look at the WVU running backs:


Junior Leddie Brown had the breakout season the Mountaineer offense so desperately needed this season. In just 10 games, Brown single-handedly out-gained the entire WVU backfield from a year ago, gaining 1,010 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. He also proved to be a capable receiver, racking up 31 catches for 202 yards and two more scores.

The only thing that held Brown back from receiving an even higher grad was his inconsistency. He eclipsed 100 rushing yards in five games, but also failed to reach a 3.5 yards per carry average in four others. When WVU won, Brown averaged 122.3 rushing yards. When the Mountaineers lost, Brown only averaged 69.

Behind Brown, Alec Sinkfield rushed 78 times for 327 yards, but saw his role diminish near the end of the year, carrying the ball just 10 times in the team’s final three games and not once in the bowl game. Youngsters Tony Mathis and A’Varius Sparrow had just 21 combined carries throughout the season.



Leddie Brown finally emerged from the pack of running backs to be the guy for West Virginia in 2020 with one of the Big 12’s best breakout performances. 

Brown did a little bit of everything in the WVU offense this season, with more than 1,000 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns and 31 receptions — including two for touchdowns. When Brown did well, so did the Mountaineers. When he couldn’t get into a rhythm or the Mountaineers were forced away from their running game, there were not many positive results for WVU. Still, Brown was a breath of fresh air at the position that was perhaps the team’s biggest disappointment in 2019. 

Iowa State’s Breece Hall was the best running back in the country in 2020, so it is not a knock on Brown to say he was the Big 12’s second-best running back this season — that’s how good he was.

Outside of Brown, WVU did not get a whole lot from its other running backs. Alec Sinkfield was OK in limited playing time that lessened as the season went on and guys like A’Varius Sparrow and Tony Mathis saw very limited playing time. This group seems to have decent depth, but with the way Brown played in 2020 they will be hard pressed to find first-team reps as long as he is on campus in Morgantown and healthy. 


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