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WVU Receiver Isaiah Esdale Prides Himself on Body Control, Making Tough Catches



WVU receiver Isaiah Esdale has 11 receptions for 102 yards in the teams last three games. Photo via WVU Athletics

Production has come in spurts for West Virginia University wide receivers Isaiah Esdale this season.

In the first six games of the season, Esdale had just one reception for 13 yards. In the three most recent games, however, he has 11 receptions for 102. WVU offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said Esdale has matured as the season has gone on, improving his practice habits and earning his way onto the field.

“It’s a true testament to him and how he’s grown,” Parker said. “We’ve had several tough conversations early in the year. He’s stayed prepared and came to work, became a good practice player and made plays that have got us going here in the middle of the year.”

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Esdale said not playing early on was frustrating, but his mentality has always been to just work through whatever problems are in front of him.

“I just have a mentality where it’s you just got to put your head down and keep moving no matter what,” Esdale explained. “No matter what’s thrown at you, you’ve just got to keep pushing forward. Make sure when your name’s called, you’re ready.”

At 6-foot and 203 pounds, Esdale is on the bigger side of Mountaineer receivers this season. He said his biggest advantage as a receiver is using his body to create separation and coming down with the ball when it is in the air.

“I think my body control when the ball’s in the air’s my biggest advantage,” Esdale said. “I just know when the ball goes up, I want to come down with it no matter where it’s thrown. I think that’s my greatest advantage, coming down with the ball and being able to separate from players with my body.”

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People will sometimes liken making contested catches in football to rebounding in basketball, not Esdale, however. Instead, Esdale traces his ability to make catches back to his days on a baseball diamond.

“I played [basketball] when I was young, I was pretty good I think. I used to hit a couple of spin moves and stuff,” Esdale said with a laugh. “I actually have more of a baseball background and I think that hand-eye coordination has a lot more to do with it.”

A shortstop and left fielder, Esdale thinks his baseball background helps him be a better receiver.

“Trying to catch this little ball going however fast, 100 miles per hour or whatever, I think it definitely helped with hand-eye coordination,” Esdale said. “The drills we used to do in baseball, that definitely helped too.”

Esdale said his primary focus on the football field is the ball. He said he takes the phrase ‘the ball is the program’ very seriously.

“When I’m on the field, I just see the ball so different,” Esdale said. “It means everything, I just want to keep it with us no matter what.”

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