Catching On

  • By Tim Goodenow
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  • April 06, 2011 12:19 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – He admits he had never heard the name Daron Roberts prior to two weeks ago. Yet, West Virginia senior wide receiver Brad Starks has taken a quick liking to his new position coach.

“He has great energy,” Starks smiled. “He expects us to work hard and play fast. He’s a great fit for what Coach (Dana) Holgorsen is putting together here.”

The much-anticipated, high-octane, Holgorsen-led Mountaineer offense is in its second week of installation. And while junior Geno Smith’s continual development at quarterback will play a vital role, its success may hinge on the performance of the wide receivers.

The literal hands-on use of wideouts has them preparing with a bounce in their cuts and routes. Front and center of that discussion is Unionville, Va. , native, Starks.

“The offense is simple, yet complex at the same time,” said Starks, fully immersed in the Xs and Os of spring practice. “The major difference is coach wants us to master a certain position. You won’t see us running back and forth, lining up on a particular side of the field. I am focusing on my spot and my routes.

“And if you think about it, it should make it easier for us.”

Starks is the team’s second leading returner in career receiving yards, totaling 890 yards in 34 games.

After battling injuries throughout the first part of the last season, he showcased his capabilities in an October win over UNLV. He became the first Mountaineer to record three touchdown receptions in the 31-year history of Milan Puskar Stadium.

Starks is looking forward to hauling in more passes and developing into a consistent target.

“I think anybody that is competitive, wants the ball more,” said Starks. “But I’m going to run the routes that will put my team in the position to move the chains and score points. I think our offense can be very dangerous and help this team win games.”

Equipped with the size and speed of a big-play threat, Starks is counting on an injury-free final season in the Old Gold and Blue.

“I am 100 percent healthy,” declared Starks. “I am making smarter decisions and have concentrated on taking care of my body.”

Also aiding in the development of WVU’s receivers is Smith’s return under center. The Mountaineers have fielded a different starting quarterback in each of the past three seasons.

“There’s no question it helps out a lot,” said Starks. “Developing trust and working on timing of routes is a key part of any receiver and quarterback.

“I have caught passes from Pat (White), Jarrett (Brown) and Geno the last three years. Me and Geno have an extra spring and summer to work together. There’s more time to bond off the field as well to help the chemistry. “

And when’s he’s not stretching the field vertically, Starks can be found in the ears of his young, but talented receiving corps, taking on the role of mentor.

“I have been really trying to keep on them and remind them to work hard every day,” explained Starks. “You don’t want to lose a work day, especially when installing a new offense.”

Starks and his teammates are working diligently to establish a new offensive identity, all while having fun in this transition process.

“I’m excited,” said Starks. “It’s endless opportunities and possibilities with this offense.”