MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University football coach Bill Stewart said he is proud of the way his upperclassmen are taking on a leadership role during spring practice.
"I do like our enthusiasm, the way we came out and went to work," he said following Wednesday morning's practice. "It's more of a mental thing now. We have eight practices to go, and three of them are scrimmages. You have to come out to the field and be ready to go. I think we did."
Stewart said he recently sent out a series of "tweets" about desire, and how players have to have that desire to come to practice.
"If that desire dominates your every thought, you're going to get better," he said. "Now if you're a guy who counts practices and periods, then what I say didn't even work.
For those guys who truly want to be great, master the fundamentals, get out here and get better, and play Mountaineer football, (Wednesday) was a very good day. I thought the team ended well, and I'm very pleased with their effort."
Stewart said he likes what he sees from defensive back Travis Bell, a sophomore who saw only limited action last season.
"He is a student of the game, and he spends time in the film room with coach (Steve) Dunlap learning the coverage," Stewart said, adding that "Darwin Cook and Wes Tonkery have really stepped up, so I like what I'm seeing."
Stewart also praised the efforts of defensive back Eain Smith, who has been limited this spring as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
"Every drill I look at on film, I see Eain Smith in the background backpedaling and trying to work on his reads," Stewart said. "He is a student of the game. There is nothing he can really do physically because of his shoulder surgery. I do know he's into it, and he's been a good leader."
Contact John Wickline by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.