Deeper Than Ever

When West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen released an updated depth chart heading into Saturday's game against William & Mary, there were four names listed at the running back position.

But there was one interesting absence.

The depth chart listed senior Charles Sims, freshman Wendell Smallwood and juniors Dreamius Smith and Dustin Garrison. Andrew Buie, who led the team last in rushing last season as a sophomore, was not listed. Holgorsen announced Tuesday that that was due to a decision that was made to redshirt Buie this season.

"He's got to develop mentally and physically," Holgorsen said. "I fully expect him to be ready in the spring.

"Did we force him to redshirt? No. He just felt like it was in the best interest for him and in the best interest of the program to save his year."

This is an option that WVU wouldn't have had the opportunity to do for the past few seasons. Since Holgorsen has been at West Virginia, the Mountaineers have been scrambling at times to find contributors at running back thanks to injuries and a general lack of depth.

Now, with an abundance of backs at their disposal, the Mountaineers are able to allow a back like Buie to sit out a year because they have plenty of other players who can step in and play well without missing a beat.

That's a problem running backs coach JaJuan Seider doesn't mind having at all. If nothing else, just because it helps bring more competition and it makes each player want to work harder to earn their time on the field.

"There's great, quality depth here," Seider said. "I told the guys that this will be the toughest fall camp they'll ever go through, and I compare it to being in the NFL because every day you're competing for a job.

"It doesn't matter if you're a rookie or a veteran, somebody's getting a paycheck and somebody's getting fired. So what are you going to do? Are you going to sit back or are you going to fight for your job and your playing time?"

Aside from the fact that the Mountaineers have more running back depth than they've had in quite some time, the things that those backs bring to the table are much more versatile. West Virginia has big, bruising backs who can fight for short yardage in situations like Smith, fast backs who are shifty and can break big plays like Smallwood and then Sims and Garrison can run the ball as well as become a major factor in the slot in the passing game.

Sims had 1,707 receiving yards in his three years at Houston and his 158 catches would put him in the top 10 among all WVU receivers in career receptions.

But it's that versatility that everyone brings to the table that could turn this group into one of the most dangerous positions on a West Virginia offense that is still looking for what its identity will be in the 2013 season.

"That's another way for all of us to get on the field," Garrison said. "Having the versatility to catch the ball, run it, block, that only helps us get more bodies on the field."


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