MORGANTOWN - The Mountaineers have suffered loss of games, and players over the past several weeks. With the departure of two wide receivers, another Mountaineer athlete has taken advantage of his opportunity.
Meet Connor Arlia. A five-foot-nine, 183 pound wide receiver from Weirton, West Virginia. A walk-on sophomore member of the team who, until last week, saw very limited action on the field wearing the old gold and blue.
With Traveres Copeland and Ivan McCartney leaving the program, Arlia has stepped into a much more involved roll. He has four catches in his career, three came just two weeks ago as he made some difficult grabs in Stillwater, against Oklahoma State.
"It was just a blessing," says Arlia. "I just tried to go as hard as I could every play. I had a couple catches and I felt good but I just wish our team would have won, so that's all that matters."
That's the type of player, and person, that Connor Arlia is. A very unselfish, hard-working, determined teammate who is only interested in the greater-good of the entire team.
In high school, Arlia displayed a very high performance level. He was the MVP for the state championship game, two-time first team all-state selection, and the Wendy's Heisman winner, which recognizes athletes who succeed both on the field, and in the classroom.
Coaches and teammates have started to take notice of Arlia's efforts as well. His mentality wit the game of football isn't going unnoticed.
"You take a guy like Connor...just sheer effort," says head coach Dana Holgorsen. "Effort, grit, want-to, it means a lot to them. [He's one] of the most disappointed kids in our locker room after the game, we need more of that."
Holgorsen also mentioned the play of Ryan Nehlen and Cody Clay, acknowledging their attitude and efforts as well.
On a roster with two of the best receivers in the country, standing out could be a difficult task. Yet, Arlia is making his presence known. He may not have the quickness of Tavon Austin, or the hands of Stedman Bailey, but even those two guys have taken notice of what Arlia and Nehlen are doing.
"Those guys are always out there working hard and I appreciate that out of those guys," says Bailey. "Those are guys that want to be here. Those guys have been waiting on their moment for a long time."
With Austin presuming the role of the number one running back this past week, Arlia could see even more time on the field if the trend continues in the final two games.
His quarterback Geno Smith even had to chime in on the difference Arlia is making for the team.
"It's evident when they step on the field because they're giving 110% each and every time," Smith says. "We just go out there and we play ball and it's good to have guys like that on your side, who's out there just fighting with you.
Prior to the game against Oklahoma State, Arlia had just one catch for 14 yards. That came against James Madison when the offensive backups hit the greens of Fedex Field.
It's no longer just fourth quarter time that may not matter. He's playing in an upgraded role that could have him getting a starter's number of snaps.
What you can expect from Arlia is a non-stop effort no matter how fatigued he may be. He's willing to lay it all on the line for his teammates in order to get what's most important, a victory.
"It's all for the team, every time I'm on the field, I'm going to give my all and go as hard as I possibly can," says Arlia. "For my coaches and for my teammates, that's what it takes to win so that's what I'm going to do."
Arlia wears the No. 83 on his jersey, so keep an eye out for the quick receiver when WVU faces Iowa State this coming Friday. Even if he isn't the biggest contributor statistically, he is making a difference in the locker room and in the minds of those who surround him.