Junior college transfer Alric Arnett, who played at Scottsdale Community College last season, and Dayton, Ohio native Will Johnson are primed for playing time at the outside wideout slots. Arnett, who caught seven passes for 73 yards and a touchdown at SCC, also played at Butler Community College in 2005 (14 rec., 212 yards, 3 TD). He has flashed a mix of decent size (6-2, 195 pounds) and speed – Arnett won the 400 meter state championship as a junior and senior at Glades Central High (Fla.) and ran a leg on the 4X400 relay team, also state titlists two years.
“I have been to a lot of places off and on,” Arnett said. “This is not a big change for me. I have been out of school for two years so I am used to it.”
What he’s not used to is the speed of the game at the major college level. West Virginia plays fast on offense, and that adjustment, along with the no-huddle, has proven to be the most difficult aspect.
“It’s a big jump coming from junior college to this program,” said the athletic coaching education major. “I am just trying to get comfortable with what I am doing, going day-to-day learning the packages, the hand signals, correct alignment and trying to get better and more comfortable with the system. Blocking, I’d say, is really important here. We had to block in junior college, but it is more physical now. The guys are a lot bigger and stronger. It’s more technique and technical blocking. That’s where the fundamentals come in. I am excited. I might be nervous at the same time.”
Johnson, who reported July 31, is listed as an athlete. He started his career at receiver both because of a personal request and West Virginia’s lack of depth. He has become accustomed to the hand signals used for play selection because Centerville High, his alma mater, used a similar set of signals despite running a Wing-T offense.
“I am picking that up well,” the 6-2, 200-pounder said of the Mountaineer offense. “It’s a big change from high school. The guys are a lot bigger and stronger. I had to block a lot in the Wing-T, but here the corners are faster and stronger. You practice at it, get steps down.”
Johnson wanted to play receiver, and asked the coaching staff for a first-look at that position. An All-District linebacker and team captain as a senior, Johnson was the team MVP and played in the Big 33 game, a contest between the best senior players from Ohio and Pennsylvania. He also lettered in basketball and was a regional track qualifier in the 100 meters and a district and regional champion in the 4X400 relay.
"I came here because I wanted to play receiver,” said Johnson, whose build and style is eerily similar to that of Arnett. “That, and the coaching and the chance to compete at the highest level.”
The duo is battling for time behind Tito Gonzales. A nagging hamstring injury has held outside receiver Wes Lyons out for many of the drills, though Johnson and Arnett also missed portions of practices. Only Darius Reynaud is a virtual lock as a starter, and he is a slot receiver. Head coach Rich Rodriguez said, of now, Nate Sowers and Adam Bednarik would see time, along with Dorrell Jalloh. WVU would like to have eight solid receivers to form a base two-deep.