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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 17 Kansas at West Virginia

WVU’s Leddie Brown rushed for 1,010 yards in 2020, including this 87-yard touchdown against Kansas on Oct. 17.

MORGANTOWN — Neal Brown cut to the chase.

Which chase?

The chasing West Virginia University opponents are going to be doing during the 2021 season as they try to catch star Mountaineer running back Leddie Brown.

It would be a good idea for WVU fans to listen to the Mountaineers’ third-year head coach. Instead of continuing the never-ending questions and hand-wringing about whether or not quarterback Jarret Doege has improved, the fans would be better served by paying attention to Leddie Brown.

Neal Brown made that crystal clear during a press conference here on Tuesday.

“Leddie Brown, we’re going to run our offense through him,” said Brown, matter-of-factly. “I think he’s the one guy that’s really proven that he can go out and win games.

“Now, my expectation is that we’re going to be much improved in the passing game — and our stats really weren’t bad last year throwing the football. We would like for them to be better, but they weren’t bad.

“I do think our quarterback and our receivers are much improved, but our offense is going to run through Leddie.”

It wasn’t a drop-the-mic moment, but it could have been. It was that profound.

Not only does that reiterate how productive the 5-foot-11, 216-pound running back was during the 2020 season, it also indicates just how much he has improved during the off-season.

“It’s not been overnight,” emphasized Neal Brown. “But he has really grown into a established receiving threat. He had 30-something catches [31] a year ago. I hope we can increase that. I’d love to see him in that 45 to 60 [range]. I think he’s capable of it.

“In spring ball, we used him a lot split out just because we didn’t want to get him tackled, and that helped him. He grew. He took the summer really seriously as far as running routes and catching balls. He’s got as good of hands as anybody. And he understands the leverage now.”

If it sounds like Neal Brown is excited about his star running back, it’s only because he is. And he should be. In 10 games last season, Leddie Brown rushed for 1,010 yards in 199 carries (5.1 yards per attempt), averaged 101.0 yards per game and scored nine touchdowns.

That allowed him to achieve such national rankings as No. 14 in rushing yards (1,010), No. 26 in TDs (11), No. 27 in rushing yards per game (101.0) and No. 31 in rushing touchdowns (nine).

“I’m excited about his ability to do that,” said Neal Brown, “not only from the backfield but split out. And the other thing, too, is he is much improved in protection. That is something that was asked about by the scouts. We didn’t ask him to do it last year. But he has been on point. Good technique. He hasn’t missed an assignment during camp to this point.

“And I think his ability to run outside has improved. And that’s something that we emphasized in spring ball and, now, through 11 practices in camp. We wanted him to be not just an interior runner, but somebody that can get on the perimeter.”

Brown, the running back, has expanded his skill set, so Brown, the head coach, is expanding his star’s role in the Mountaineers’ offense.

Heard of “A River Runs Through It”?

Well, in 2021, WVU’s offense is going to run through Leddie Brown.

Mountaineer fans should get used to that reality.