One of the few things not up for debate early in the Neal Brown era of West Virginia University football is the talent present in the running back room.
There are four players capable of producing positive results among the WVU running backs this season, and while all four will almost certainly see playing time for the Mountaineers in 2019, senior Kennedy McKoy has been the standout among that group during preseason camp.
"I think we're in a good spot right now," McKoy said. "Every day we're going out to practice, driving just to get better that day and work on the little things."
That drive has paid off for McKoy, who Brown singled out during his Tuesday press conference. The first-year WVU coach said McKoy has been one of the players who has shown the most improvement from spring practice through summer drills and then in preseason camp, which came to an official end Wednesday with the start of the fall semester in Morgantown.
"[McKoy] has gotten stronger over the last six, seven months," Brown said. "He’s a guy that gets vertical really well. He’s a one-stick guy, he can get his shoulders going north and south extremely quick. He’s patient, he has very few negative runs, catches the call out of the backfield. He has got a toughness about him that I like."
McKoy, a former standout at North Davidson High in Lexington, North Carolina, was the most productive of West Virginia's four-pronged rushing attack last season. In 12 games, McKoy had a team-high 145 attempts for a team-high 802 yards. He also led WVU with eight rushing touchdowns in 2018.
His best game in 2018 came in a loss at Oklahoma State. On that afternoon, McKoy carried the ball 21 times for 148 yards -- both season highs for him -- while scoring two touchdowns. It was the only time all season he broke the 100-yard barrier, though he did come close one other time with 94 rushing yards in West Virginia's dramatic win at Texas.
Brown said he thinks McKoy can improve on all of those numbers as a senior in 2019.
"I think if he can stay healthy, he’s sitting on a big year," Brown said. "He’s played at a high level in this conference before and his confidence is higher than it ever has been. When you get into coaching you can sense when guys are sitting on big years and I’m hopeful and I believe he’s sitting on a big year."
McKoy is being asked to take on a leadership role for West Virginia this season, and it is something he admittedly is not used to. McKoy said he has always been more inclined to lead by example, but he's learning to be more vocal with his teammates.
"It's kind of my job to get guys going, make sure we're starting fast and just keeping guys focused," McKoy said. "It's a different role for me because I'm a more to myself guy and I let my work do the talking, but sometimes you've got to do what you got to do."