The first thing you notice about Charles Sims is that you don’t notice him.
The fifth-year running back transfer from Houston whose actions on the football field are touted as screaming NFL in his future doesn’t speak often in the present, and when he does speak it isn’t far above a whisper.
They say he can run and he can catch, not necessarily touting him as the next Tavon Austin but as the closest thing the West Virginia University Mountaineers have this year, but don’t ask him to go bragging on himself.
“I just want to make plays, just get put in a position to make plays and help the team out,” he said.
Conversation? Small talk?
Not Charles Sims.
“How you liking it here?” you ask him.
“I’m just enjoying myself, man, just enjoying myself,” he answers.
“What was the thought process that got you to end up here rather than going back to Houston or going to the NFL or going elsewhere?”
“I just felt comfortable coming here. I sat down with my family. I made a visit and felt comfortable.”
“Why didn’t you go in the NFL draft?”
“That was a family decision. I wanted to graduate, too.”
And so it went, over and over.
You waited for one good quote, one insightful comment that you could base a profile of this man who was named the Big 12’s Preseason Newcomer of the Year on.
He admitted he felt he needed another year to prove himself before going into the draft.
“This is a step up. They go faster. It’s a bigger conference,” he said.
“Would you say you want to prove yourself on this level?” asked a reporter.
“You could say that. You could say that,” Sims answered.
“I’d rather you said that,” said the frustrated reporter.
o o o o o o
What kind of player is he?
JuJuan Seider coaches West Virginia’s running backs.
He’s watched silent film of Sims while at Houston, his playing ability doing the talking.
Last year, despite injury, he was named second-team All-Conference USA, leading the Cougars in rushing with 851 yards and 11 TDs and catching 37 passes for 373 yards and three TDs.
“He is as good as advertised,” Seider said. “There’s a reason he got NFL grades. The one thing we’ve been stressing is we have to create big plays. It wasn’t enough last year. You take Tavon out of the way and it wasn’t enough.
“I challenged those guys. We need more out of this room and yesterday we had about seven or eight big plays, but they were from two or three guys. We need it from everyone.”
Sims, however, figures to make big plays running the ball or catching it.
This is how Jed Drenning, the former QB turned color commentator for WVU, describes his style.
“Sims can change the flow of a game in an instant and it’s easy to see his explosiveness on tape, though defenders often seem surprised by it,” Drenning wrote. “Despite all his speed and quickness, he plays with the decisiveness of a north-south runner. Stylistically he’s less water bug than he is puma; less ‘shake-n-bake’ than ‘jab-n-go;’ less Noel Devine than Steve Slaton.
“Sims is an explosive, one-cut ball carrier who bends runs at warp speed. Like Slaton, Sims runs with a relatively high pad level but still manages to use his strength to fight through traffic. More than you might think, he makes a living with deliberate cuts between the tackles but he does possess the burst to bounce to the edge and the speed to outrun angles when the situation dictates.”
Catch and make big plays, run and make big plays.
Remind you of a guy named Tavon Austin?
“He is different than Tavon,” said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “Tavon is a smaller guy, twitchy ... really twitchy. Charles is a bigger dude. He’s not a little guy.
“Charles is a talented kid,” Dawson continued. “He works hard every day, every rep. That’s probably his biggest asset to the team, his work ethic. He never takes a play off. When you get the ball in his hands it’s pretty dynamic.
“You like it when you have a guy like that who you can turn and hand it to him or throw it quick to him and he can go 70 yards.”
On June 24, Gil Brandt, longtime Dallas Cowboys general manager and one of pro football’s most respected talent evaluators, sent out an interesting tweet about Sims. Brandt referred to Sims as one of his top five senior running backs and predicted that he would post Adrian Peterson-like speed and strength numbers at the NFL combine next spring.
Brandt wasn’t saying Sims is another Peterson, but he was trying to say that he is a handful for people on the college level to handle.
Seider has studied Sims since he arrived and went to work. He likes the persona, which really is out of step with most of today’s boastful and arrogant athletes who all would be in the Hall of Fame if they were half as good as they thought they were.
“He is just quiet by nature. He talks to me and I understand him. I was that way, so I give him a hard time about it,” Seider said. “He is just real quiet and reserved. That’s how he is. He doesn’t like being in the spotlight. He just wants to show up and play ball.”
And that’s fine with everyone.
“That makes him special. It’s not about him. It’s about the team. That’s how he’s been since he got here,” Seider said.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
The first thing you notice about Charles Sims is that you don’t notice him.
- WVU Sports
Staten, Mountaineers take responsibility for loss
West Virginia University had Gonzaga beaten.
Simple as that.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Harris hopes for more shots when he’s hot
The game was over, a dark memory in Eron Harris’ mind as he sat in the West Virginia University locker room.
WVU to host Regional Gymnastics Championships
West Virginia University will play host to the 2015 and 2017 NCAA Regional Gymnastics Championships at the WVU Coliseum.
Coaches name Sims Big 12 Newcomer of the Year
West Virginia University senior running back Charles Sims, who transferred in from Houston to play his senior season, made the most of it as he was named first-team, All-Big 12.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Defense needs to be WVU’s No. 1 priority
When Dana Holgorsen took over as West Virginia’s football coach, he came carrying the credentials of an offensive innovator and with an unbroken history of offensive success, the assumption being that it would carry over from Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State to WVU.
Gonzaga avoids upset at WVU
For most of Tuesday night’s battle at the Coliseum, West Virginia did a number on Gonzaga star Kevin Pangos, and because of that and some dazzling first-half shooting by Eron Harris and second-half heroics of Terry Henderson, the Mountaineers seemed on their way to an upset of the nation’s No. 20 team.
WVU hoping for home-court advantage against Gonzaga
On the surface, you may wonder what chance West Virginia has at victory at 9 p.m. today when Gonzaga comes into the Coliseum to face the Mountaineers.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Gonzaga brings excitement to WVU Coliseum
Gonzaga comes to the Coliseum today to face West Virginia in a 9 p.m. game televised nationally on ESPN2 and, like it or not, it is Gonzaga and not the Mountaineers that has the star power to make this an attractive national game.
FURFARI COLUMN- IMG could still be seen as controversial
West Virginia University is in its first year of partnership with IMG College for at least partial media rights.
HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU game attendance questioned
You might remember Rick Harshbarger. We introduced him to you almost a year ago as the guy driving the car parked in the Coliseum parking lot with the license plate: NO1WVFAN.
- More WVU Sports Headlines
- Staten, Mountaineers take responsibility for loss