LAS VEGAS – The East-West Shrine Bowl has been an eye-opening experience for West Virginia wide receiver product Bryce Ford-Wheaton. It provided him with the chance to truly see where he stacks up compared to some of the best in the country.
Ford-Wheaton, who was able to move into WVU’s true WR1 position during the 2022 season after Winston Wright decided to transfer, told Mike Asti that he encountered something during practices in Las Vegas that he never had to deal with throughout his time as a Mountaineer.
“Going against corners that are my size. Going against nothing but man. It’s been different,” said Ford-Wheaton explaining he was not used to press man in college. Better learn how to beat it late than never though, right? That’s the attitude Ford-Wheaton seems to be taking while realizng he may be underprepared for the next level. He detailed what exactly makes press man difficult for him. “Press man is kinda different. We don’t see a lot of that in the Big 12. The corners are really just trying to mess up your timing and mess up your route, and defeating that at the line and getting a lot of separation is harder, but I know that’s what it is in the league. So I’m getting adjusted to it and getting better day by day,” he offered while reflecting on his college career and what his plan is moving forward.
To his credit, it was evident at the Shrine Bowl practices that the 6’3″, 224 pound receiver has the size and strength to be able to handle one-on-one battles and has some sneaky quickness and speed that can result in him getting open no matter if the play is drawn up for him or not. Ford-Wheaton has also always been a player willing to do the dirty work and block well to extend plays when others get the ball. He has the skillset and makeup, but his pro success may depend on if he can translate into an NFL system and learn an advanced route tree, which is something else he quickly realized he needs to figure out.
Ford-Wheaton caught 62 passes for 675 yards in 2022, although that’s only 100 more yards than he had the year prior with Wright ahead of him on the depth chart. He scored seven touchdowns, but four of those came in the first two weeks of the season.
The Shrine Bowl week will be a big positive for Ford-Wheaton in his development, but that’s not all it did for him. The Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina native met and heard from a representative from just about every NFL franchise with one standing out. Ford-Wheaton confirmed his talk with the Steelers was special because they’re always been the team of choice of his family. He even mentioned that his mother was more excited about his meeting with Pittsburgh than any other one.
It’s now up to Ford-Wheaton to show NFL coaches and scouts that he can take the lessons he learned in Las Vegas and apply them to become the player he needs to be in the NFL.
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