When the 2019 season started for the West Virginia Mountaineers, the biggest question mark was the receiving corp. The 2018 version of the Mountaineers were loaded at receiver with David Sills and Gary Jennings and Marcus Simms running around and past cornerbacks. Those players all left and the Mountaineers were left with a bare cupboard. While the Mountaineers were short on experience, they were not short on talent.
Enter Sam James. They say “Luck favors the Prepared” and Sam James was prepared in 2019. James started the first half of the season catching at least 5 passes in every game and blowing up against the N.C. State Wolfpack with 9 catches and 155 yards. A mini-two game “slump” came against the Oklahoma Sooners and Iowa St. Cyclones but then James showed exactly what he was capable of with a 14-catch, 223-yard performance against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
James would go on to finish the year with 69 catches, 677 yards and 2 touchdowns. So what could James do in his sophomore year?
A jump in catches isn’t out of the question as James was the most reliable performer for the Mountaineers last year. He should catch at least another 70 balls and a jump to 75 isn’t out of the question. For James, production from other players like Ali Jennings and TE Mike O’Laughlin could take away some of his chances but you go to to your workhorse and that should be Sam. The bigger jump should come in his average. James averages less than 10 yards per catch but not because he wasn’t open and couldn’t blow by safeties.
James was easily one of the fastest players on offense last year and he was WIDE TF OPEN on many plays. Having a full year of Jarret Doege should see him YPC average jump to the 12 yard range.
Prediction for 2020: Sam James will catch 75 passes. If he averages 12 YPC that is 900 yards. This would be the most yards a Neal Brown wide receiver has caught in his 6 years as a head coach. A few extra catches or a few more yards and could James become the 10th Mountaineer to break 1,000 yards?
Will Sam James break 1,000 receiving yards?
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