It’s not often you’re named offensive champion when you don’t receive a carry or catch a pass.
But redshirt senior Elijah Wellman is the exception to the rule.
“He is one of the most important guys that you have on our offensive unit. He is the guy that makes us more multiple,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said.
Wellman allows the Mountaineers to use more power formations and that versatility as well as what he brings in a blocking and leadership capacity makes him an invaluable cog in the offensive machine.
The in-state native and starting h-back, Wellman has bought into his role as a blocker first and understands that while it might not directly show up on the stat sheet if he is doing his job his teammates and coaches take notice. Hence his selection.
“I don’t care about scoring touchdowns. Those guys are running through those holes untouched and when they come to the sidelines they smack me on the helmet. That’s good enough for me,” he said.
It takes a different kind of mind set, but it’s one that Wellman has not only embraced but exemplifies. A glorified sixth offensive lineman at times, his role is to clear lanes for the backs behind him. It’s just another way to create an additional gap and a part of a transition that has happened over the years.
At one time, fullback wasn’t a position in head coach Dana Holgorsen’s version of the air raid offense. Not at Texas Tech and not at Houston. It wasn’t until he took the offensive coordinator job at Oklahoma State when he inherited one of those body types that he started to tinker with it.
That continued when Holgorsen made the move to West Virginia and he found himself once again with multiple fullback bodies. So the Mountaineers put it in place and the reunion with Spavital and offensive line coach Joe Wickline, who were with Holgorsen at Oklahoma State only further solidified the plan.
Come to find out, the Mountaineers were actually ahead of the curve by utilizing the spot as across the college football landscape the position is having a renaissance of sorts.
Why? Like most things in football it comes down to matchups and numbers.
“That sixth body to add gaps. But it’s not just a tight end body more of a move around guy that you can do different things with and incorporate in the passing game,” Holgorsen said.
Wellman is a perfect representation for that and put his thumping skills on display multiple times throughout the course of the early season schedule.
And while he is admittedly at home running up and hitting somebody, the position becomes more challenging when you mix in route running and pass protection. He even caught a pass for 18-yards earlier in the season showing off his chops in that department but understands his purpose.
“It’s not too difficult to run as hard as I can to hit somebody,” he said.
But it’s obviously not for everybody and his Sunday’s are often much more sore than he’d like to admit. That is a product of taking on defensive linemen and blitzing edge rushers. The physical aspect of the position is something that draws Wellman to it, but he understands that taking care of his body is just as important with therapy, stretching and mobility training.
“His job is to block people,” Holgorsen said.
And that’s what Wellman does best.