Ben Queen/WVMetroNews photo

Elijah Wellman made a third-down catch to prolong the West Virginia offense’s lone touchdown drive in a 33-23 loss to Alabama.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Even as freshman fullback Elijah Wellman tries to pump the brakes on these Owen Schmitt comparisons, his quarterback keeps cracking wise about the similarities.

“I told him if you get a touchdown you can open up a bar in town and live the rest of your life,” joked Clint Trickett.

Wellman compiled 18 touchdowns as a senior at Spring Valley High and nearly launched his college career by scoring in his first game at West Virginia.

Left uncovered by the Alabama defense at the goal line, Wellman couldn’t scoop a knee-high rollout throw. It was a fourth-quarter red-zone failure that became pivotal in the Mountaineers’ 33-23 loss.

“For a kid from this state who bleeds for this program, he took that hard that he didn’t catch that ball,” said West Virginia running backs coach JaJuan Seider. “But that was a hard-ass catch for him, and he said ‘I still should’ve found a way to catch it.’

“You never know what the outcome of that play did for us. If we score it’s a different ballgame down there.”

Clint Trickett wasn’t about to let Wellman absorb blame for that incompletion, saying “If I throw even a semi-decent ball, he catches it easily. That was 100-percent my fault, no reflection on him.”

During a spring scrimmage, Wellman caught a touchdown from the slot receiver spot. And against Alabama in the first half, he made a 10-yard catch on third-and-2 that led to West Virginia’s lone offensive touchdown.

“He actually has really good ball skills,” Trickett said. “He’s a good kid and that’s why I wanted him to get that touchdown. I took it harder than him.”

A two-way all-state player at Spring Valley, Wellman was known for gaining tough yards as a running back and delivering bruising hits as a linebacker. That combo certainly feeds into the Schmitt profile, as does Wellman’s 240-pound frame.

Yet after playing only one game, Wellman called it premature to be referenced alongside one of the program’s most rugged icons.

“Owen, he’s legendary here at WVU. He’s always been one of the players I looked up to. Real hard-nosed and everyone loved him,” Wellman said. “But I haven’t played that many snaps to see where I am.”

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  • Foxguy26554

    There is plenty of room at the top. It is just more crowded at the bottom.

  • mark

    If he catches the @%#!! ball in the endzone, we might have won the game vs. Alabama.

    • Kelly

      And if our defense pitches a shutout, we win.

      And if we scored on every possession, we win.

  • John

    Owen was a very good fullback for us. However, the best I've seen (I started watching WVU in 86 as a WVU Frosh) at the fullback position was Craig Taylor. Taylor was NEVER tackled for a loss, rarely turned the ball over, and was a wrecking ball blocker.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      Knew Craig heck of a good person. Fullback maybe 10 yrs. before him played 1 yr. for Baltimore Colts - Ron Lee I believe, also we can't forget Jim Braxton.
      The key to Schmidt and all these fullbacks was they were not just hurdling themselves into the line they were looking on down field to try to get big yardage and I think that is what separated them from the pack - of course of all these were really exceptional athletes.

    • JTL

      Absolutely, Craig was the full back of full backs at WV. I remember after going to the Bengals they gave him the name of cinder block. Haha.

  • nashville cat

    i think dana has won me back,,, if we the fan b ase can relax and be patient, i do think our football program is headed in the right direction... now it can get derailed with injuries, especially if clint goes down
    but we're now concentrating on our recruiting base in florida and the east, and forgetting about texas.
    we have the best coaching staff we have ever had, and the best recruiters as well\
    if this staff can't make a go of wvu football, we're in trouble,,,go eers

    • WVU PLAYER 65

      Yes it is time to get back on the fan wagon.

      WVU is going to win a bunch of games this year, and everyone can feel it and see it, so time to call Big Tom, Big Larry, William, and all the other anti-Mountaineer friends, and get them back on the fan wagon, because it will fill up real quick this year.

      Support the Mountaineers, coaches and the program win or lose, come to the games in Morgantown. Enjoy your day. See you all at the game Saturday.

  • Joe

    If he does eventually evolve into another "Runaway Beer Truck", he'll need jj_landers@yahoo.comto consider name change ala Owen Schmitt, Matt Suey, Bronco Nagurski, Undra "The Dog" Johnson, etc........ :)


    There will never be another player in WVU history like Owen Schmitt.... so please ......


  • any major dude

    Even Owen was not Owen when he was a Freshman. Elijah is not and may never be Owen, but he might give Elijah something to shoot for.

    • Mister Man

      Schmitt did not play at WVU as a freshman.

  • TruthTeller

    Here we go again. Try to unwrap the Christmas presents in September? The guy has played one game and you are trying to compare him to Owen? REALLY? REALLY? Wow you people have the intelligence of little children. You guys should write children's story books instead of writing about college sports.

    • Aaron

      Clint Trickett is the one who compared him to Owen Schmidt.

      Most 3 rd graders could obtain that information from the article.

      You couldn't why ???

      • Mister Man


  • nashville cat

    ur still very young and will have many chances to redeam yourself... actually , it was a poor pass, we just can't miss on opportunities like that...clint needs more PT and more practice.
    it scares me that we only got one offensive TD in that game,,,we have the chances and blew it,,, the last time made me throw up when i saw the ball flying over clint's head...of all times for a screw up, but that's football

  • Ole Sasquatch

    When Wellman saw he was open right before the pass, he should have slowed down a bit and got set up for a pass that might have been off a bit - just needs to relax, keep a personal dominant mind and play to game conditions.
    The blitzing corner backs need to adjust mentally to the same conditions to insure the tackles. These mental processes need to be understood before we can win and we want to win very bad.

  • richard

    mr. wellman will be a really good player for this program. just stay hardnosed bud!

  • any major dude

    One more example of Trickett's leadership skills: taking the blame for a pass which was not great, but catchable. It's encouraging to see the TE/FB being used as a receiver in this scheme. One more weapon in the arsenal that can't be taken for granted by the opposition. Owen makes a heck of a good roll model, maybe some day, just keep working hard! Toughness seems to be ingrained into those Spring Valley kids.

  • wvu_93

    Let's just take the time to find out who Elijah Wellman is before we try to make him the next anything,

  • WVU1

    Seems like a good West Virginia kid. It's a little unfair to make him the "next Owen Schmitt" before his career really starts.

  • Molon Labe

    BIG future for this kid. Good article.