Shrine Bowl Interview: Steelers Meet With Versatile West Virginia WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton

If you’re a Pittsburgh Panthers fan in addition to a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, the name Bryce Ford-Wheaton might ring a bell. In the 2022 Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia, Ford-Wheaton torched the Panthers for nine receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns. He finished his redshirt junior year with 62 receptions for 675 yards and seven touchdowns, which was a big jump from the 8 total touchdowns he had in his first three collegiate seasons. In an interview with Ford-Wheaton at the Shrine Bowl, the former West Virginia wide receiver talked with Steelers Depot about his development over four years and his ties to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ford-Wheaton started the 2022 season with a bang, as after the Pitt game he had an even better game in West Virginia’s second game, against Kansas. While WVU couldn’t get the win, he had a whopping 11 receptions for 152 yards and two touchdowns, bringing his totals through two games to 20 receptions for 249 yards and four touchdowns.

“I was just ready and I just felt ready. A lot of work was put in in the offseason cause I knew this was gonna be my last year in college and I was ready,” Ford-Wheaton said about his hot start to the season.

Ford-Wheaton measured at 6’3 and 222 pounds, and he models his game after Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams as his size compares favorably. He also said he met with some Steelers staff members on Thursday and that he grew up a Steelers fan. He also said that his girlfriend lives in Pittsburgh.

Watching Ford-Wheaton’s tape, one aspect of his game that stands out is his ability to create after the catch. He believes his size helps him with that ability as it makes him harder to bring down.

“I just think that it’s kind of natural, I’ve been doing that since kind of a young age. My size is kind of a natural advantage just because I’m a harder person to bring down,” he said.

That size wasn’t always the way it is now though, as Ford-Wheaton says when he got to West Virginia he was a lot leaner.

“I put a lot of trust in my strength coach and he invested a lot of time in me and he developed me into who I am today. He put a lot of work into me. It wasn’t easy, so I had to develop, I developed each year. I didn’t come into college ready to play. So I think physically I made a huge jump, and then mentally as well, just having multiple different coaches, I learned a lot from all of them,” he explained.

Before his final year at West Virginia, the Mountaineers lost some talent at wide receiver to the portal. That led to Ford-Wheaton getting more opportunities, as his receptions jumped from 42 to 62. The progression between year three and year four started with his performance at the Backyard Brawl.

“I knew that our fanbase was really looking forward to that game, and especially it was one of the first games of the season. I knew everybody was watching and stuff like that, so it was a fun game to be apart of,” he said about getting his last season off to a good start.

As Ford-Wheaton transitions to the NFL, he talked about what he thinks he can bring to NFL teams.

“I think I’d be able to bring contested catches, be able to take the top off some defenses, I’m a blocking receiver and I add value on special teams too.”

To prepare the draft, he said he’s worked out with Receiver Factory and Top Shelf in Atlanta. He’s on the West Team at the Shrine Bowl, which is being coached by the New England Patriots staff.

“They’re real intense and they have their way of doing things,” he said about the Patriots’ coaches. “I feel like it’s kind of the right thing, or the right way to do things. So they do things the right way. They like hard, physical, players, so you gotta be that if you want to play in this offense.”

Ford-Wheaton would likely need some development among entering the NFL, and he could be a middle-late-round candidate to be drafted by the Steelers. He could play immediately on special teams and could end up playing on the outside or as a big slot similar to the way JuJu Smith-Schuster did and what the team tried to do with Chase Claypool. There’s no doubt that receiver is a position the Steelers will target either in free agency or the draft, and their early interest in Ford-Wheaton could be telling. We’ll see what happens as the pre-draft process continues to play out, but he’s certainly. a name to watch.

To Top