Arlia Impresses

Arlia Impresses

Prior to last weekend's game against Oklahoma State, West Virginia inside receiver Connor Arlia was better-known for his jet ski accident in Florida prior to the Orange Bowl than anything he's done on the field for the Mountaineers.

Yep, it was the same Arlia that broke his leg during a pre-bowl game activity and had to miss out on the Orange Bowl.

He didn't let that injury earlier this year stop him from working his way up the depth chart at inside receiver this season, however.

And with some of the latest departures from the team, Arlia is now "the guy" at the second inside receiver position for head coach Dana Holgorsen's high-powered passing attack.

"I just try to go as hard as I can, and if the coaches think I can get the job done I just thank them for the opportunity," Arlia said. "I'm not the biggest or fastest guy out there, so I have to do things differently than some other guys."

Arlia may be the biggest benefactor of some of the Mountaineers' concerns in the passing game.

At the start of the season, incoming freshman Jordan Thompson was considered to be the next coming of Tavon Austin. Yet, Thompson hasn't panned out in his first year on campus.

Next up was Travares Copeland, who has since left the team.

Then, it became Arlia's position. And he took advantage of it in last Saturday's game at Oklahoma State.

"It's been a process for me, but that's college football. That's how it is," Arlia said. "I just go out there and work hard everyday and put it all in God's hands. I know that whenever my time comes, I'm just going to play as hard as I can for my team.

"It's all for the team. Every time I'm on the field, I just give my all for the team. That's what it takes to win."

Arlia caught three passes for 25 yards – two of which were reviewed and stood. Prior to the contest with the Cowboys, Alria had just one catch for 14 yards against James Madison.

"I was more into the game since I was out there. After I caught it, I was just more focused on getting lined up like our coaches always preach to us. It definitely felt good, though," Arlia said. "I hope that I can have some more."

Before Saturday's game, the sophomore receiver from Weirton had just one reception for 14 yards. In fact, he had gone four games without playing a snap prior to the TCU game on Nov. 3.

Arlia didn't think he would get an opportunity to play FBS football as a senior in high school. But, he had an MVP performance of the state's North-South All-Star Game his senior year, and it changed everything.

The next morning, Arlia woke up to his cell phone ringing. It was none other than West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who discussed the option for the first time of being a preferred walk-on at WVU.

It didn't take Arlia long to accept.

Still, it was a long shot he would see the field this early.

"I see a lot him in me even when I was young and going through college," said senior wide receiver Ryan Nehlen. "He's in a similar situation as I was. He's a West Virginia kid, walk-on, and he's making a name for himself, and I'm proud of him.

"I was so happy for him. He works his butt off, and I told him he needs to make it a little easier on himself and have the next few catches go without a review."

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