West Virginia football is back. Saturday was the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game, which gave a short insight into what the team may look like once late August comes around.
After a star-studded season out of the Houston senior transfer running back Charles Sims in the 2013 season, head coach Dana Holgorsen said in his postgame comments from the Spring Game he thought the versatility Sims brought to this squad last year has not been forgotten and has helped WVU grow in the offseason in a multitude of ways.
“The best thing that Charles Sims ever did by coming here is to teach those guys how to be versatile,” Holgorsen said. “(He taught them) how to practice hard, be unselfish and, all those guys, it doesn’t matter what position they are playing, they all want the ball, and they all want to be a featured running back, but they don’t mind getting in as receivers and catching passes down field.”
Sims ran for 11 touchdowns on 208 attempts last fall, totaling 1,095 yards. The likely NFL-bound Sims also caught 45 receptions for 401 yards and three receiving touchdowns in his lone season as a Mountaineer.
All of these accolades for Sims came after he earned his undergraduate degree in May 2013 and wanted one last year to show what he has made of before pursuing an NFL career, something Sims did not let go to waste.
Holgorsen praised Sims following his final game as a Mountaineer in late November as he said Sims will not be leaving the game of football anytime soon, and his talents will lead him places.
“He’s a tremendous football player that’s going to be playing for a while. (I’m) glad we had him for a year,” Holgorsen said after the Iowa State game.
With the starting running back position still up for grabs heading into next fall, senior running back Dreamius Smith, sophomore Pitt transfer Rushel Shell and redshirt junior Andrew Buie will all be competing to fill the larger-than-expected shoes of Sims.
On top of these three well-deserved candidates for the job, there is one more West Virginia player who Holgorsen believes can make a big impact in the running game next season: true sophomore Wendell Smallwood.
“I told you Wendell (Smallwood) is probably our second best inside receiver or maybe even the best inside receiver right now,” Holgorsen said. “Obviously we’ll put him in the backfield and get him the ball a bunch. (He’s) very versatile and very productive.”
Although Sims exceeded many expectations he had heading into last fall, Holgorsen understands Sims is no longer a Mountaineer and knows the coaching staff needs to find a new star from the range of options they have for the season opener against Alabama.