The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 28, 2013

Sims on the verge of 1,000 yards rushing

MORGANTOWN — It is difficult to imagine, but the last time West Virginia University produced a running back who gained 1,000 yards was in 2009, when Noel Devine put together the fourth most productive rushing season in Mountaineer history with 1,465 yards.

For the 2011 season, Dana Holgorsen came in as coach and inherited quarterback Geno Smith and wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, and it appeared as though this school which had produced 1,000-yard rushers the way Ford produces automobiles might never again produce one.

But times change, as do coaches, and as WVU enters the final game of the 2013 season, it is on the verge of adding another 1,000-yard rusher to its list of 12 players to accomplish that feat in Charles Sims.

The senior, who transferred in from Houston for just this year, needs only 54 rushing yards in his final collegiate game — a game in which he figures to be featured — to make it to 1,000.

“I haven’t done it,” Sims said. “It’s a great accomplishment, but just to finish the season strong with these guys is most important.”

Rushing for 1,000 yards while also being tied as the team’s leading receiver is a major contribution, but considering the team enters Saturday’s 4 p.m. Iowa State game at Milan Puskar Stadium with just a 4-7 record, it may be secondary to what could be a far greater accomplishment.

That would be in providing freshman running back Wendell Smallwood with a role model and advisor to lay the groundwork so he can become the featured running back in the offense the next three years.

“Charles has been able to endure four long seasons and a lot of touches and a lot of ball games,” Holgorsen said. “He’s handled it unbelievably.

“Freshman running back Wendell (Smallwood), as a true freshman, is no different. He’s used Sims being in that room to his advantage. He sees how he attacks the game, his work ethic and how he practices. Seeing the versatility that he plays with is going to help him a lot.”

Smallwood is a freshman out of Wilmington, Del., who came to WVU determined to prove himself right away. WVU had Andrew Buie, last season’s leading rusher, and Dustin Garrison, the previous year’s leading rusher who missed much of last season with a knee injury, returning, but Smallwood knew there was a chance to play.

Then Sims arrived and Smallwood saw his work and knew the starting running back had arrived.

“I never heard of him,” Smallwood admitted. “I knew he was special as soon as he stepped on campus. I watched him in 7-on-7 and drills, and I realized he was the guy and I could learn a lot from him.”

And that was what he did, although Sims is a quiet guy who keeps mostly to himself.

Still …

“He kind of leads by example, but if I ask him to look at a certain thing, he’ll correct me, tell me what I did right or tell me what I did wrong,” Smallwood said.

“He’s grown over time and gotten better. With his work ethic, he’s going to be a great back,” Sims said.

In a lot of ways the two are similar, both in running style and in the fact that they can be important factors in the passing game.

“He can also catch the ball, too,” Sims said.

Sims leads WVU with 43 catches for 470 yards and two touchdowns, while Smallwood, who is averaging 5.9 yards a rush on 35 attempts, has caught 11 passes for 132 yards.

“A lot of people have some receivers that they stick in the back, but we have something special with him because he can do a little bit of everything. That’s pretty impressive,” Holgorsen said.

Stylewise, the two are similar, although Sims is a bit more evasive, Smallwood preferring to run through or past a potential tackler.

“I’ve got to learn signals. Sometimes I line up at receiver and motion out. I’ve got to learn route running. I have to learn what to do without the ball.”

Can he become as good as Sims.

“Yeah,” he answered, “but I want to be better.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
    He believes a college football coach ought to recruit a quarterback he wants, give him some help, then turn virtually everything over to him and let him go.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

    July 25, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.

    July 25, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos