MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Patience has been the foundation of running back Jaylen Anderson’s game.

When he arrived at WVU as a freshman in 2021, he wasn’t in the best shape and had some maturing to do on and off the field. He knew if worked on both of those things, his time would come.

He redshirted that season and didn’t make his Mountaineer debut until West Virginia hosted Towson in its third game of 2022.

With starter Tony Mathis and Justin Johnson Jr. returning along with the emergence of rising sophomore CJ Donaldson, game touches were hard to come by for Anderson.

But he stayed patient.

Anderson showed what he was capable of in the season finale. He was WVU’s leading rusher in Stillwater with a career-high 155 yards on 15 carries.

He found his way into the end zone on two long runs. His first collegiate touchdown was from 54 yards out. He added a 57-yard score on the next possession.

“It still seems surreal,” Anderson said. “It just felt like the game slowed down. I felt really comfortable. I played fast and I felt like I had been there before.”

That showing earned Anderson the honor of Big 12 Newcomer of the Week.

He wasn’t necessarily surprised by that performance. If anything, it reassured him that if he continued to work in the offseason, he could have that type of success consistently.

“It shows me I’m ready for this and whenever I Iock in, I can do whatever I want,” Anderson said. “It gave me hope moving forward.”

The Perry, Ohio, native grew up playing receiver. He didn’t become a running back until he was in middle school.

After watching Le’Veon Bell who also grew up in the Buckeye State, Anderson wanted to play that position. Bell went on to play at Michigan State and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013.

“Running back is something I fell in love with watching Le’Veon Bell,” he said. “I’ve been watching him since his high school days.”

Anderson doesn’t really try to mimic Bell’s style but rather uses it as an influence for building his own.

He studies Bell’s tendencies quite a lot, but what he admires most about him is his patience and the way he lets the game come to him.

Anderson is trying to do just that as he completes alongside four other running backs this spring.