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WVU Football 2024 Position Group Preview: Offense Could Explode if WRs Reach Potential



WVU Football WR Traylon Ray

With the WVU spring practice session fast approaching, it’s time to start looking at how each position group stacks up in 2024. And that starts with the group constantly undergoing the most change year after year and facing questions once again – the wide receivers.

The end of the 2022 season, a year West Virginia fans want to forget, meant the departures of Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Sam James, Kaden Prather and Reese Smith. Regardless of whether it was due to pursuing the NFL or transferring, the Mountaineers lost their top receivers. WVU brought in veteran Devin Carter, EJ Horton and even Kole Taylor, which ended up signaling the use of the tight end position as more of a pass catcher than traditionally takes place in a Neal Brown offense.

Carter caught 27 balls for 501 yards with a couple touchdowns and Horton made 10 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown, but it was Taylor who led the team in receiving with 35 receptions for 444 yards and four scores. Simply put, Carter did not live up to the hype and failed to increase his value or impress pro scouts. Horton had some big moments. But it was Taylor, the tight end, who turned out to be the best acquisition for the passing game. Brown delivered on his promise to Taylor when recruiting him and Taylor held up his end of the bargain by being the complete player he said he could be if utilized properly.

But a big part of the success of the passing game was thanks to the emergence of walk-on and West Virginia native Hudson Clement, who earned a full scholarship after a big game early in the season. Clement did not stop there though, finishing the season with 22 receptions for 480 yards and scoring four touchdowns. He became a favorite, both for fans and as a target of quarterback Garrett Greene. Preston Fox stepped up in his own right, a necessary surprise once Cortez Braham exited the program in the middle of the season.

While Rodney Gallagher entered the season as the four-star recruit and top 2024 signee, it was his fellow freshman Traylon Ray who exploded on the scene and formed a deadly connection with Greene on the field. Ray posted 321 yards and scored three touchdowns as a true freshman, and especially became a big play threat towards the end of the season.

Fortunately for WVU, the change at the position isn’t as much of an overhaul as it was one year earlier, but there is still a sense of needing more production from the collective group if the offense is going to reach its full potential. Of the receivers mentioned, only Carter won’t be back as a Mountaineer in 2024. That means Greene can continue working on his chemistry with Clement, Taylor, Horton, Fox, and of course, now second-year players Ray and Gallagher. And as Greene keeps improving, so will his weapons. But Greene and the WVU offense will also have a new addition to incorporate into the fold.

Asti: WVU Avoids Doomsday Scenario, Accomplishes Top Priority of Offseason

Former Oklahoma State Cowboy Jaden Bray decided to stay in the Big 12 and transfer to West Virginia. Bray, who caught 30 balls for 382 yards in 2023 for OSU, will help to make the offense more explosive. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Bray is a unique blend of size and speed and will be a tough tackle for any defender.

The expectation is that Bray will fit nicely on the outside with Clement and Horton and has the size to handle most one-on-one battles. It might require some work to get all of these receivers involved, but there was a sense of needing to replenish the receiver room some based on the inconsistent play at times during the 2023 season.

Asti: Addition of WR Jaden Bray Serves Multiple Purposes for WVU Offense

Separate from what he offers on the field, Bray will be a veteran the rest of a still youthful group can look upon for guidance. With three years of college football behind him, Bray can fill Carter’s shoes as a leader the others can learn from, both on and off the field. And unlike when Carter moved to Morgantown, Bray has multiple years of eligibility remaining.

Bray even knows what it’s like to play in a Big 12 Championship Game, something he did twice at OSU. A bonus of the Bray move is taking a key player away from a conference foe, making it all that much sweeter for the Mountaineers.

Having someone like Bray around makes life easier on the coaches, most notably wide receivers coach Bilal Marshall.

All in all, WVU has to be happier about what it’s bringing back this year compared to the situation at this same time last year. The Mountaineers were able to avoid the doomsday scenario of losing key offensive players and can feel confident the sky is the limit in terms of the potential of the youth at the position. Expect running backs Jahiem White and CJ Donaldson to be sprinkled into the passing game as well.

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