The Times West Virginian

August 30, 2013

Sims could be do-it-all man for WVU

By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — Do you know the moment when you are standing waiting for an elevator that seems to be taking forever to get there finally arrives and the doors spread open and out walks the woman — or man — of your dreams?

You’re left kind of speechless and paralyzed, able to move only your eyes as you follow that person away.

Well, that’s how West Virginia’s running backs coach JuJuan Seider felt when the doors to the elevator of his heart opened and Charles Sims walked out.

He’s that good ... at least he promises to be that good when he makes his debut before a full house in Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday against William & Mary.

“He will probably be the best running back at WVU since Steve Slaton,” Seider said. “He’s in that mold.”

Strong words, for everyone just assumed they had broken that mold and thrown it away when Slaton left.

Oh, Noel Devine came along and did some wondrous things, but really the emphasis had changed at WVU from running to passing and you didn’t expect to see great running backs around here anymore, a theory that was strengthened when the man who put together the best day any running back ever had at WVU — Tavon Austin — was a wide receiver.

But Sims promises to be special.

“He may even have a better feel than Steve,” Seider went on.

Feel, of course, is a natural sense for when to cut and where to cut, for speeding up and slowing down. Slaton was really good at that.

“I know people don’t realize that because Sims hasn’t played yet, but he can stop and start with the best of them. He can get to first gear in the blink of any eye,” Seider said.

That’s what separates him, his explosiveness.

He’s standing still and then going full speed before you can hear the sound of the starter’s gun.

“The kid, I mean, he’s got it. That’s the best way I can describe it,” Seider said.

That, in most cases, would be enough, but Sims brings with him a whole lot more from Houston, where he showed his stuff off for three years before graduating and transferring to West Virginia.

“He could go be our best receiver right now. His ball skills are that good,” Seider said.

Indeed, Sims can run and he can catch and, yes, he’s a tremendous return man, too.

Sims began his career at Houston after being recruited by the offensive coordinator. His name was Dana Holgorsen.

He would earn Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors that year, his only one under Holgorsen, who knew what to do with him. Sims caught 70 passes that season for 759 yards and ran 132 times for 698 yards. That made him the only player in the country to have 600 yards rushing and receiving that season.

He gave Holgorsen a chance to coach Tavon Austin before he coached Tavon Austin, and don’t think for a minute that what Sims was able to do didn’t play a role in Holgorsen’s decision to move him to running back for the Oklahoma game, where he simply compiled 572 all-purpose yards.

Holgorsen left after that one year, Sims sat out a season then was first-team all-Conference USA in 2011 and second team last year despite injuries.

Now he’s at West Virginia and playing for a chance at the NFL, and he knows Holgorsen will make the most of him.

“He’s a good player, very well-rounded,” Holgorsen said. “I remember him being very well-rounded with good ball skills, being good at setting up blocks. And I remember all of that at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds as opposed to being 6-1, 210 pounds, which he is now. He’s got an abundance of ability.”

And don’t think Sims won’t get a chance to fully prove himself as a running back.

“Dana likes running the ball,” Seider said. “It’s a misconception that he doesn’t. Everywhere he went he had a guy going for 1,500 or 1,400 yards.”

That probably has a lot to do with not only Sims being at West Virginia, but also a pair of young and highly touted running backs in freshman Wendell Smallwood and junior college transfer Dreamius Smith.

Email Bob Hertzel at or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.