James emerging as Kendall’s top target

WVU Football

Redshirt freshman leads Mountaineers in receptions after two games

While West Virginia has had its share of troubles moving the football during the first two weeks of the season, at least one young skill player has impressed the coaching staff. 

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Sam James has become one of quarterback Austin Kendall’s favorite targets. After two games, he leads WVU in receptions with 11, and he logged a team-best five catches against Missouri. 

During fall camp, head coach Neal Brown labeled James as one of the team’s top young talents, and was impressed by the wide receiver’s play at Mizzou. 

“He was our best player clearly for the entire first half,” Brown said. “He was explosive. I thought he did a good job of getting the [defensive back’s] hands off of him, which is something we’ve emphasized, so I think he’ll continue to grow.”  

But at the same time, other contributors in West Virginia’s aerial attack have seen a drop in their output. 

Redshirt junior T.J. Simmons is perhaps the biggest culprit, according to Brown. The Alabama transfer recorded just one catch for five yards against the Tigers — a performance that disappointed the head coach. 

“He’s just got to play better,” Brown said. “He’s got to play faster, gotta block better — he’s gotta play better.” 

James is third on the team in receiving yards with 67, while Simmons follows just behind with 63. West Virginia’s leader in receiving yards after two games is Tevin Bush, who has recorded 95 yards, and graduate transfer George Campbell ranks second on the roster with 87 yards. 

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