WVU running back Sims wants to leave a legacy
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While the game carries little meaning, West Virginia's season-ending visit to Iowa State at 4 p.m. Saturday will create lasting memories for 14 seniors, especially running back Charles Sims.
Sims needs 54 yards to become West Virginia's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2009, when Noel Devine put together the fourth-most productive rushing season in Mountaineer history with 1,465 yards. Sims would become the 13th player to rush for 1,000 or more yards program history.
“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.”
Sims has played only this season with WVU after transferring in from Houston, where he established himself as a runner and passcatcher. He carried that over to West Virginia, leading the team in rushing and tying for the lead in receptions.
That may be secondary to what he has done as a role model for freshman running back Wendell Smallwood, Sims' heir apparent.
“Smallwood, as a true freshman, is no different,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “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.”
Said running back coach JaJuan Seider: “Me and Dana were talking about it, and Dana thinks Wendell is farther along than Charles, and that says a lot. The thing about Wendell is he's smart. You tell him one time, and he picks it up. The stuff comes natural to him.”
Smallwood, who hails from Wilmington, Del., 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 abilities and knew the starting running back had arrived.
“I had never heard of him,” Smallwood said. “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.”
Sims added: “He's grown over time and gotten better. With his work ethic, he's going to be a great back.”
Sims has been the focal point of what is a disappointing WVU offense. WVU remained mum on its quarterback situation. Starter Clint Trickett has been cleared to play after a pair of concussions, but Holgorsen has held back on naming him the starter over Paul Millard.
Bob Hertzel is a freelance writer.