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Once full of question marks, WVU's receiving room is full of production and potential for 2024

Apr. 8—MORGANTOWN — This time last year, West Virginia's receiving corps was made up of NC State transfer Devin Carter and a bunch of question marks. Safe to say that bunch exceeded expectations as the Mountaineers' crop of young receivers more than held their own in 2023.

"Obviously there's an adjustment coming in when you're young, " receiver coach Bilal Marshall said Monday. "The guys just got better and better throughout the year. This offseason they trained really well."

Now as the team prepares for 2024, that group is back and expected to be even better.

"Really what it comes down to is being here, being in the program and understanding what it takes to be a good football player, " Marshall said. "You can't just lace them up and go out there and be better than everybody. There's a lot that goes into this, especially playing wide out."

Former walk-on Husdon Clement was the big breakout last season, catching 22 passes for 480 yards and four touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore did enough to earn a scholarship after just the second game of the year.

"I think his season, to everybody, exceeded expectations, " Marshall said. "He's just got something to him where he's confident and he's going to make a play. The moment's never too big for him."

True freshman Traylon Ray was also a pleasant surprise, making 18 receptions for 321 yards and three scores. Classmate Rodney Gallagher was the team's highest-rated recruit but needed to adjust to receiver after playing quarterback in high school.

"I think he's getting there. He's still not where I would like him as a route runner, still working through it, " Marshall said of Gallagher. "But he covers up a lot of his mistakes through effort. I think this summer it'll really start to click for him as a receiver."

Former walk-on Preston Fox made a big impression as well. After catching just five balls over the previous two seasons, Fox made 26 receptions for 368 yards and a pair of scores in 2023.

Speedster EJ Horton had 10 catches for 201 yards after transferring from Marshall.

"Because the whole room, for the most part, stayed together this offseason, they're closer than they've ever been before, " Marshall said. "This is going into my fourth year with the program and I've been able to see two sides of a wide receiver room and this room is very close."

The lone known entity in last year's room, Carter, has graduated, but the team brought in another veteran this offseason in Oklahoma State transfer Jaden Bray. A redshirt sophomore, Bray caught 48 passes for 686 yards and four touchdowns over three seasons with the Cowboys.

In addition to having so many receivers back, WVU also returns starting quarterback Garrett Greene.

"It's a tremendous help, " Marshall said. "We're able to do more and at an earlier point in spring camp ...They all know the route combinations, they all know where they're supposed to be so it just gives everyone a little more flexibility."

The most encouraging thing Marshall has seen out of the receiving room so far is how the guys all root for each other.

"It's something that's rare in a wide receiver room because everybody wants the ball, " Marshall said. "For them to be able to root for one another, push one another, hold each other accountable, it's something that you just don't see a whole lot of, especially from a bunch of 18 to 22-year-olds."

WVU held its seventh practice of the spring on Monday. The team returns for practice eight on Wednesday.