The West Virginia Mountaineers receiving corps is arguably the best in the nation. By now, this has been discussed and pointed out by numerous media outlets. The Mountaineers return three out of their four top receivers from last season, including Biletnikoff finalist David Sills.
Gary Jennings, Marcus Simms and David Sills combined for 2,739 of the 4,021 receiving yards in 2017 and 24 of the 37 touchdowns.
They will miss Ka’Raun White’s 1,004 yards and 12 touchdowns, but Alabama transfer TJ Simmons is more than capable of filling the void. Wide receivers coach Tyron Carrier likes what he sees.
“Simmons is physical. He’s my motor out there,” Carrier said. “He brings all the energy every single time. You know what your going to get snap after snap by TJ. He’s going to give everything he’s got, till he can’t give it to you anymore.”
No one can deny the talent among the starters, but West Virginia will need some of the younger receivers to step up throughout the season when their number is called.
Fortunately, the older players on the roster are bringing the young guys along.
“Every older guy had to mentor a younger guy,” Carrier said. “That means you have to make sure they were everywhere on time, make sure they’re getting their workouts in. They made sure they did all the little things right. It was their job to show them the ropes.”
That mentoring is paying off on the field.
“The older guys did a great job bringing them in, showing them film and teaching how they are supposed to look and how it’s supposed to look,” Carrier said. ““It’s night and day. Just dealing with the freshmen bunch, they can handle so much more information being put into them.”
The Mountaineers didn’t have much depth at receiver last year, but this season could be different, if everyone stays healthy. Beyond the freshmen, Dominque Maiden has been making early impressions and Tevin Bush moving into his new slot receiver role should help keep this unit fresh during the season.
From top to bottom, this year’s group offers nearly everything. They’re talented, with both youth and experience, but the key detail might be the unit’s maturity.
“Simms, Sills, Jennings, TJ, and Maiden — those guys that came back, they’re special,” Carrier said. “It’s not about how many yards I got, how many touchdowns I got. Its about the team. The overall purpose is winning.”
Last season created plenty of time in the spotlight for Coach Carrier’s receivers. Jennings, White and Sills made the Biletnikoff watch list early on in 2017; Carrier thinks his guys are good enough to have two guys in New York for the ceremony this year.
“I should have two I’m sitting in between,” Carrier said with a smile.
So yes, this group is loaded with talent. By season’s end, the 2018 position group could go down as the best receiving corps in Mountaineer history.