Mature McKoy Looks At Ease For WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There’s a noticeable difference in the maturity of West Virginia running back Kennedy McKoy these days.
Not that the versatile junior was a bad seed or anything of the sort during his first two seasons in a Mountaineer uniform. Far from it, in fact. Avoiding a redshirt and contributing immediately, the Lexington, N.C., native rushed 198 times for 1,068 yards and 11 scores during his first two seasons, and carried much of the WVU offense against Oklahoma in the absence of quarterback Will Grier, carrying the ball 25 times for 137 yards and three scores, many coming from the wildcat formation. He didn’t complain about his backup role, and wasn’t any sort of disruptive force.
Still, talking with him during West Virginia’s 2018 preseason, a different feeling emerges. He’s calm and composed, taking what could be some awkward questions about competition in the running backs room in stride. He’s quick to praise those who are, after all, trying to take playing time away from him, and doesn’t appear to be bothered by that fact. In short, he’s become a leader on a team that has a number of them on the offensive side, and is doing so with the combination of performance on the field and demonstrations, many of the lead-by-example type, in the Puskar Center.
“The competition in our room is something that has helped me push myself and become a better player,” said McKoy, who has been a go-to guy during the preseason for thoughts on the progress of the Mountaineers. “I’ve had a pretty decent camp, so far. They talk about competing all the time, and that’s one of the biggest things about teams – it’s about competing, whether it’s with yourself trying to get through something or with your teammates.”
That self-awareness, and acknowledgement of his role and what he needed to do to improve, are likely one of the factors in his sense of calm and command. After all, he’s performed well on the field against the best in the Big 12, navigating competition from his teammates while also supporting them and helping them improve.
And those improvement factors? McKoy terms them “little things”, but understands they can be big things in both the short and the long term.
“Presnap reads,” McKoy lead off with on his offseason improvement goals. “For example, there are some situations like a blitz pickup where you have to know is this an extra guy, or is it a guy the linemen are going to pick up so I can get into my route. Then during the play reads, and knowing everybody else’s job as well as my own.”
That last is usually one of the final steps in the on-field education process. Running from the initial steps of simply learning the play, through understanding the different options dictated by the defensive alignment and adjustment, and finally to knowing what everyone is supposed to do, is a lengthy process. It’s not something that happens quickly, but when it does, it breeds confidence.
With all that in place, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that McKoy has become a leader on a team that is already strong in that department. And in the process, shown a maturity that has others willing to follow.