One of Neal Brown’s goals for the spring is to become a player-led team.
“That’s a transition you should be able to make if you have the right guys going into year three,” said the WVU football coach. “When you have teams that nobody leads, they’re not very good, they are poor teams. When you have coach-led teams you are probably about average, but when you have player-led teams you have the chance to be elite. That’s what we are trying to be.”
He believes he has a great group of veterans, and a system in place, that can help the Mountaineers achieve just that.
“With our offseason teams, we have 10 captains and weekly meetings. We give them some say so they make some decisions and try to get the pulse of the team. I always open up by asking ‘what are our issues and how can I help with anything going on?’,” Brown said.
Two of the players in those weekly meetings are running back Leddie Brown and defensive back Alonzo Addae. They share their experiences from the week, help pick a teammate of the week from their accountability teams and also learn how they can improve their leadership skills.
So, what is Coach Brown looking for in a leader?
“Someone that is going to call everybody out, even his friends. It doesn’t matter who it is, their roommate, everybody. He wants everyone on the same page. A responsible person that is willing to step up in that leadership role and speak to the team and bring them up when they are down,” Leddie said.
The 1,000-yard rusher may be the veteran in the running back room and one of the top returners on offense, but the senior ball-carrier said being a vocal leader doesn’t necessarily come easy to him, so having that extra guidance helps him hone in on his leadership style.
“I’m pretty laid back so I have to push myself to do that. In the meetings, it’s coach telling me what I did good that week from a leadership standpoint, what I didn’t, and what I can improve on,” Brown said.
In Addae’s case, he not only has unfinished business on the field, but he also feels he still has knowledge to share with his fellow DBs.
“Being the older guy on the defense, I’m looking to set an example for younger guys on the field. I remember being in that position, coming in as a freshman or sophomore, and looking up to the older guys,” Addae said. “I am a six-year senior at this point so I know what is expected, I know what we need to do. I’m looking to show the guys what needs to be done day in and day out.”
Whether they are natural-born leaders or simply guys that need a push to bring that side of them on and off the field, Coach Brown says he has found the right guys to get the program to the “elite” status it is working towards.
“We have a good group and they are maturing and taking the leadership role seriously,” the head coach said.
The glue guys are in place and making progress, but the main question remains unanswered. Will this approach have the benefits the head coach is hoping for? Looks like the jury will remain out until the competition begins.
“I think that’s to be determined on how we react in some tough adverse situations where you really need leadership,” Brown said. “How to handle things in the fall will be the end-all on that.”