West Virginia receiver Connor Arlia
started to see a glimpse of how he will be used in the Mountaineer offense last season.
After being used primarily on special teams as freshman in 2012, the Weirton, W.Va., resident appeared in nine games catching seven balls for 43 yards. He didn’t stop there, though.
The work continued in the spring and summer. He was an Iron Mountaineer honoree for his work in the weight room and also garnered the 2013 Tom Nickolich Award, given to the program’s top walk-on.
“Everyone is getting jittery,” he explained. “We know camp is coming around. We’ve been working so hard. We’re just looking forward to this hard work paying off. I love weightlifting as much as the next guy, but we’re here to play football. We’re buying in as a team and working so hard.”
Entering his third season, Arlia’s teammates are starting to look toward him for motivation and leadership in the weight room. He was elected to a team leadership council made up of players from both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
He joins Dustin Garrison
, Andrew Buie
, Quinton Spain
, Isaiah Bruce
, Shaq Rowell
and Darwin Cook
, among others.
“I’m just trying to lead every day and push people,” he said. “We don’t have those older guys. I’m a veteran now, and I really like it. Every day in the weight room I’m trying to push guys, and encourage guys, because that’s what it takes. It’s all about the team. If everyday individually we all get better, we’re going to be a better team.”
Arlia is competing for time at the inside receiver spot, but because guys such as Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey have moved on to the NFL, he thinks that the offense is going to have to be more versatile, using more guys to move the ball.
That’s not a bad thing, though, he said, because the team atmosphere is coming together so well.
“Everyone is working hard every single day,” he said. “We all get along. I feel like we’re really coming together. I think you’ll see that in the season – just a productive team.”
Arlia explained that the competition around the team – a team that didn’t have a single representative on the preseason all-Big 12 squad announced last week – is making everyone better and fueling the desire to improve.
“Competition is what we’re here to do. If you don’t like competing, you’re playing the wrong sport,” he said. “That’s going to make our team better. We’re all buying into it. I love it. I think we all love it.”
The competition at the quarterback position is something that Arlia thinks will make the team better, too. The trio of incoming transfer Clint Trickett
, junior Paul Millard
, and redshirt-freshman Ford Childress
has been impressive this summer, according to the junior receiver.
“I love them all,” he said. “Clint’s been doing a great job. Paul and Ford have been doing a great job too. They’re all great students of the game.”
Other newcomers could also become a big piece of the puzzle. Arlia said that 7-on-7s are turning out to be really good for the first-year receivers because they’re able to “click” with each other and the quarterbacks before fall camp.
“It’s been great to mentor them,” he said. “It’s been great for the young guys.”
“I’m trying to bring energy everyday because I know that’s what we need,” he said. “There are days when I get tired, but I know I have to bring energy because younger guys are looking towards me, and I want to try to get everyone up every day so we can maximize our potential.”