Neal Brown is quickly changing the culture of West Virginia football. Although he hasn’t won a game yet, Coach Brown continues to win off the field.
After being officially introduced as the new head coach on January 5th, Brown got to work right away. Immediately getting to know the players who committed to play at West Virginia prior to the coaching change. He knew that he may lose some, but Brown stayed positive and did his best to keep them all on board. He did just that. The recruiting class of 2019 now seems to be even more excited to take on the opportunity in front of them.
Brown also made a huge push for the best high school player to ever come out of West Virginia. Darnell Wright from Huntington was a top-10 player in the country, and after receiving barely any interest from the old staff, Brown made it a point to take the entire new staff to Huntington High School to meet with the 6’6″ OT. If Coach Brown arrived a year earlier, then we may just see Wright in the old gold and blue.
Coach Brown also did a bit of his own recruiting in the class of 2019. With only a month to work, Brown was able to pull in Jordan Jefferson, Tavian Mayo, and former Troy commit, Tacorey Turner.
Over just the last couple of months, WVU has offered close to 280 players in the upcoming classes.
If you step foot in the facility, you can feel the change of culture. Everything is so much different now compared to just three months ago. Pictures of players helping around the community hang along the walls as you walk in through the main doors. All of the coaches on the new staff speak to you and try to get to know you. They want everyone to buy into West Virginia football.
Brown has three children, he is all about family. In fact, he has invited players’ families to the facility to eat dinner with the team after practice once a week. It’s a great way for players to bond and see what kind of background everyone comes from. This is the type of stuff that builds a winning culture.
One final thing that really stands out to me is how Coach Brown treats everyone who is a part of the team. I film for the team, I do not get paid. The two things that I look forward to the most are the food and the gear that I receive. Last fall, we were no longer allowed to eat with the team after practice. I would have to go to practice after a full day of classes, film for a couple of hours then go home and have to cook. Yesterday was the first spring practice and around 7:00 p.m. I got to sit down in the cafeteria and enjoy steak, chicken, rice, and a salad.
While I was sitting there along with some of the other students who work in the video office, Coach Brown came over to our table and asked how we were doing. It caught all of us off guard because last year something like that never would’ve happened.
That was huge to me. It shows that he recognized us as people who are also on his team. We may not be players, but without us then there would be no practice film for the coaches to watch. Coach Brown took the time out of his day to approach us and speak first, and that really shows what kind of guy he is. Coach Brown, if you see this, thank you.
You may say Coach Brown hasn’t proven himself as a winning coach yet, but that takes time. I will tell you this, he is taking all of the right steps in order for this program to get to where it can succeed. From what I’ve seen, a majority of the current players look to be all-in on the change to coach Neal Brown.