McKoy Steps Up for WVU in Passing Game - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

McKoy Steps Up for WVU in Passing Game

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Kennedy McKoy rushes for a touchdown against Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. (PHOTO: Emily Coyle) Kennedy McKoy rushes for a touchdown against Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. (PHOTO: Emily Coyle)
MORGANTOWN -

A year ago, No. 4 jogged through practices and received a bunch of second glances.

Is that Wendell Smallwood? We thought he was off to the National Football League.

As it turned out, No. 4 was freshman Kennedy McKoy, and everyone from the reporters at practice to the coaches and teammates by his side believed he was a spitting image of the former Big 12 rushing champion.

“As soon as I stepped on campus, [former WVU running backs] Coach [JaJuan] Seider told me to get in touch with Wendell and talked to him because he told me I looked just like him and I played just like him,” McKoy said with a smile. “I got in touch with him, he gave me a few pointers, some tips on how to run certain routes and certain things at running back, too.”

Smallwood isn’t a bad player for McKoy to model himself after. In his senior season, after playing back-up to Charles Sims and Rushel Shell, he emerged to lead not only West Virginia in rushing, but the entire conference. His 1,519 yards were the most a WVU back had put up on the ground since Steve Slaton back in 2006.

But Smallwood didn’t begin his career as a starter. Instead, he worked his way onto the field by splitting out as a receiver or catching balls out of the backfield. His versatility, and a crowded running back room, made him an attractive option in the passing game.

Now, McKoy’s skillset is setting him up for a similar role.

“Right now, Kennedy is capable of being the main guy, but [senior running back Justin] Crawford is pretty good,” Dana Holgorsen said this week. “We’ll use McKoy in a lot of different ways, which he did in the spring. In my opinion, he’s one of our top four guys right now.”

Holgorsen is referring to his top four receivers in that comment. At this point, less than two weeks from the season opener, he has McKoy as his best “H” receiver, one of the two slot positions in Will Grier’s arsenal.

“It’s a little more open space out there,” McKoy said of working in the slot. “You get to work, try not to let the defender get his hands on you. More free.”

McKoy ran for 472 yards and four touchdowns last season as a freshman. Still, he recognizes that he is sharing reps at running back with the league’s top returning rusher after Crawford put up more than 1,100 yards last season and that the receiver group has taken a hit with suspensions and transfers in recent weeks. If his best way to help the team is at a position other than the one he was recruited to play, he isn’t opposed to making the move.

“I’m all for the team,” McKoy said. “I just take advantage of all the opportunities that I get. As soon as I step on the field, I’m giving 100 percent effort and I’m trying to go score every play.”

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