What a player does off the field is just as important as what he does on the field.

Redshirt junior receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton learned this lesson through West Virginia football. This offseason, his main goal is to do everything possible to be the best player and teammate he can be. That includes shifting his mindset, increasing his confidence, excelling as a student, and now, changing the way he fuels his body.

“I really wanted to get better all around. I’ve been going hard in the weight room and trying to lean out, and I’ve also been eating right which is something I haven’t really done in the past,” Ford-Wheaton said. “I’ve been focusing more on nutrition and just fine-tuning my body.”

I’m sure that last sentence is music to Haley Bishop’s ears. She joined the program in February as the Director of Sports Nutrition with the goal of helping players find their “cutting edge” through nutrition. Ford-Wheaton is building that foundation that this offseason.

“I really cut out all fast food and fried food,” he said. “I’ve been trying to eat more chicken and fish than any other type of red meat, beef, or anything like that.”

As to be expected, adjusting to a new diet had its struggles the first couple of weeks. Now, eating healthy has become a habit for Ford-Wheaton. It may have taken a few years, but he’s finally realized just how important nutrition is for his future goals.

“When I first came in, I saw guys like David Sills and Gary Jennings — they were so much older than me and always eating healthy. I’d look at their plates and be like ‘ugh, why y’all eating that?’ and they would always tell me ‘one day you are going to understand why’,” Ford-Wheaton said. “I finally do understand why, it’s part of being an elite athlete and if you really do want to reach the next level and your full potential while you can, you really have to focus on everything because everything really does matter.”

Now that he’s the one in that veteran role, he hopes to have the same influence on his teammates.

“Hopefully, the younger guys will see me eating well, and then they can tell the same story to y’all in about 2-3 years,” he said.

Ford-Wheaton’s skill set has grown since joining the program in 2018, but it’s his recent off-the-field evolution that is transforming who he is as an athlete. Now, it’s finally set in just how many factors play into being that elite-level player he plans to be.

“As a young guy, you don’t really know. You try to feel it out but you don’t actually know until it just clicks in your head,” Ford-Wheaton said. “I just wanted to try this and I think that it is something that is really going to help me — I feel better than ever. Especially with this new diet.”