With nearly six months on the job, senior associate head coach Tom Bradley is starting to settle into his position on Dana Holgorsen’s coaching staff, finding players that have impressed early in fall camp this past week.
Instead of veteran players like redshirt junior Kyle Rose, it was two former redshirt players and another player that didn’t even play for West Virginia a year ago that’s caught the attention of Bradley who both played and coached at Penn State over the past three decades.
Bradley said he sees redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jon Lewis’ love and pride for the university shine during practice.
“He loves West Virginia University. He’s proud of West Virginia University,” Bradley said. “He is a guy that I really enjoy coaching. One thing about Jon is that you never question him. He is going to give you an A+ effort every time he walks on the field. He is a fun guy to be around and the way he works. I think he has the respect of all his teammates.”
Lewis’ love for WVU is understandable after playing his high school career at Morgantown’s University High where he was named All-State second team player as a senior, an Honorable Mention as a junior and two-time Two Rivers Athletic Conference First Team.
Unlike Lewis, redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Christian Brown has 15 games of on-field experience for West Virginia before 2013 ended with a medical redshirt after a season-ending foot injury. Bradley noted Brown has been flexible with what position he could play to help West Virginia this season.
“We move Christian around. Some days he plays some (defensive) end, and some days he plays some nose (tackle). He plays both ends,” Bradley said. “We’re not a team right now that’s flipping people – which is easier. If you’re an open end or a closed end, it’s very different. If you’re a boundary or field end, it’s different. What we’re doing is, we’re wanting to play both.”
Riddick, who has force on the defensive side of the ball during his time playing for Garner-Webb, will be learning on the run to catch up to speed with the West Virginia’s defensive play calling this season.
“For Riddick, these days are even more important. It gets a little bit more difficult as we start adding on. The other guys have a firm base. Shaq has started from nowhere to learn the names, the defenses, the calls the guys have been making, the signals and everything. Shaq has the most learning of anybody this year other than the freshman coming in.
No matter the knowledge level of a player, learning is the most important task for Bradley, which is right on track as the fall camp continues in preparation for this year’s opener against Alabama Crimson Tide on August 30.
“We’re about where we should be in early preseason. They’re at the point right now where some things are starting to run together,” Bradley said. “We are going to keep installing, putting it in, and eventually it will come easier. Part of the difference is we really put in the whole (defensive package), then we slow down and put in the separate parts again.”