MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After rushing for 101 yards per game last season, Mountaineer junior running back Leddie Brown is already a proven commodity.
West Virginia’s coaches aren’t going to treat the 5-foot-11, 210-pound back like a Faberge Egg this spring, but they also are going to be judicious with his workload until game action starts next fall.
“If you have guys who are proven that you want to take care of,” explained WVU coach Neal Brown, “you want to keep them sharp and put them into situations where they continue to grow, but you don’t necessarily need to have them play 75 plays in a scrimmage situation.”
West Virginia’s third-year head coach mentioned limiting spring practice contact for veteran players like linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo, defensive lineman Dante Stills and defensive back Sean Mahone, along with Brown.
“Those guys who’ve played a lot of football, they need to get reps,” noted Brown, “but we don’t necessarily need to put them out there for a bunch of reps in a tackle situation.”
That’s especially true for Leddie, who had 230 touches in WVU’s 10 games last season – 199 rushes for 1,010 yards and 31 receptions for 202 yards.
“We know what he can do,” coach Brown said of running back Brown. “There are things he can work on this spring, especially in the pass game. We’ll give him enough carries to stay sharp, but we don’t need to give it to him 20 times in a scrimmage. I have 10 games from last year that show me he’s capable of being a 1,000-yard rusher. Has he completely arrived yet? No, but I don’t think it makes sense to send him out there and get him tackled a bunch this spring.”
A first-team all-Big 12 honoree last year, Leddie admits there are still things he needs to improve upon this spring, even if his contact work is limited.
“I pretty much do everything the team does,” he explained of his practice routine, “but I’m big on blitz pickup, recognizing blitzes, breaking down the defenses and things like that. That’s my goal this spring.”
A big point of emphasis for Leddie this spring is in catching the football. His 31 receptions last year tied him for second on the team, and it was the most of any Big 12 running back, but still he thinks he can do even more in that area.
“Thirty-one is a pretty good number, but I’m looking to improve that number this season,” stated Brown, who is a native of Wilmington, Delaware. “Me catching the ball more will help me in the eyes of the NFL scouts, because that’s what they’re looking for, backs who can do it all — run, catch and block, the full package. That’s what I’m trying to show them.”