Bray offers strong early impression, could help Mountaineers several ways

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia remains in the early stages of spring practice and wrapped up its first week with a third session Friday that marked the first time the Mountaineers were in pads and permitted to tackle.

While early impressions, particularly through the non-contact portion of spring, can be tough to come by, wideout Jaden Bray has displayed traits to suggest he plans on being a key piece of the Mountaineers’ passing attack.

“He’s kind of quiet and just kind of puts his head down and works,” quarterback Garrett Greene said. “I’ve been really impressed with him so far and he’s going to do a lot to help us out this year.”

An Oklahoma State transfer, Bray caught 48 passes for 686 yards and four touchdowns over three seasons with the Cowboys, though he was limited to three games in 2022 and missed three more a year later after suffering an injury during a win in Morgantown.

Brady had one of the more productive outings of his career in the 2023 matchup at West Virginia with four receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown. He finished the season Oklahoma State’s fourth-leading receiver with 30 catches for 282 yards and a pair of scores.

WVU’s Jaden Bray looks for running room. Photo by Greg Carey

“The thing that really impresses me is he’s extremely humble. He’s had success at Oklahoma State and he knows he’s capable and talented enough to have a lot more success,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “He’s worked extremely hard. He’s a natural ball-catcher and a really good football player.”

A 6-foot-2, 205-pound redshirt junior, Bray could help to fill some of the void left behind from the departure of Devin Carter, a North Carolina State transfer who had 27 receptions for a team-high 501 yards with two TDs in 2023 — his only season at West Virginia.

But Bray’s skill set is such that Brown believes his impact can will go far beyond pass-catching statistics.

“When we do special teams, he does things on our coverage units that a lot of wideouts don’t know,” Brown said. “That’s a credit to what he did at Oklahoma State and also credit to high school and where he’s from in Oklahoma [Norman]. He has humility and ability as an overall football player, and not just a receiver — and he can run. He’s put on some good weight and he’ll continue to do that.”

As Bray continues to acclimate to new coaches, teammates and surroundings in Morgantown, Brown and his staff hope to get an extensive look at him as both an outside and slot receiver. They’re doing it with several other wideouts as well in an effort to increase versatility among a position group that returns five of its top six pass-catchers from 2023.

“He’s a really good blocker, too. He has some strength to him,” Brown said. “He looks like a long, lean guy, but he has some raw power. What we’re trying to do is train all those guys to be inside and outside.“

Along the way, Bray will get to showcase the speed that’s helped him already experience his fair share of success within the Big 12 Conference. 

WVU safety Aubrey Burks has taken notice to Bray’s ability to run.

“He caught a screen [Wednesday] and I was on the other side of the field, and he cut it towards my way and I could see the change when he was running,” Burks said. “He has some wheels on him. I’ve seen a couple of those watching film and watching him, seeing how he gets out of his routes and his cuts, I like that. That’s one guy who’s popped off the charts from what I’ve seen thus far.“

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