Bryce Ford-Wheaton did little to stand out during the 2019 season. He was a young, inexperienced receiver on a West Virginia team that had a surplus of young, inexperienced receivers.
A redshirt-freshman, Ford-Wheaton was one of four WVU receivers who finished with double-digit catches and about 200 yards. He had 12 catches and 201 yards, right in the mix with Sean Ryan (19 catches for 219 yards), Ali Jennings (19 for 192) and Isaiah Esdale (15 for 171).
Despite fading into the background last season, Ford-Wheaton has been standing out in WVU’s training camp practices, according to head coach Neal Brown.
“I think it’s just growth by him,” Brown said to reporters Saturday. “He’s got the skills, he’s got the talent, I’m not sure the confidence was always there.”
Brown has specifically mentioned Ford-Wheaton as a standout player a number of times through the team’s first dozen or so fall practices.
“Bryce has had really good days except for one. He’s got talent. He’s got the size and the speed and he’s just got to put it together,” Brown said. “I’m not totally surprised. I knew he was going to be a really good player here, I just didn’t know exactly when it was going to happen. And he’s not to that point yet, he’s got to go out and do it on Saturdays in games.”
Ford-Wheaton had a couple of moments last season that really stuck out to Brown and hinted at Ford-Wheaton’s potential. The biggest moment was Ford-Wheaton’s 50-yard game-winning touchdown against no. 24 Kansas State. Brown also mentioned Ford-Wheaton’s three-catch, 39-yard performance against Texas Tech.
“You started seeing some signs, he started getting confident and that’s what’s happened during this camp,” Brown said. “He’s made plays and you can see him before your eyes gaining some confidence.”
Heading into 2020, West Virginia has just as many receivers as last season, all with about the same amount of playing experience. Even so, Brown has high expectations for Ford-Wheaton in his sophomore year.
“My belief is … most people that perform well in practice and perform well in scrimmages usually that carries over to the game,” Brown said. “And I expect that to be the case with him.”
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