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WVU quarterback Trickett ready to put experience to use

| Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett looks to pass during a practice session Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va.

It's a new season for West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, in more ways than one.

The fifth-year senior was named the starter in June, a major departure from a year ago when he opened the 2013 season as third string after transferring from Florida State.

Trickett by the fifth game moved past Paul Millard and Ford Childress and helped engineer a 30-21 upset of No. 11 Oklahoma State. But he injured his shoulder, playing hurt the rest of the season (a concussion also forced him to miss most of one game and all of another). He eventually needed major surgery.

Through it all, Trickett completed 123 passes in 233 attempts (52.8 percent) for 1,605 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Mountaineers lost six of their last seven, all against Big 12 competition, and finished 4-8.

“It was a rough year to say the least,” he said. “A long year. I'm ready to get past that.”

He appears to be there. With Trickett strictly observing spring practice after the operation, neither Millard nor the other quarterbacks distinguished themselves. His shoulder healed, Trickett opened preseason camp as the clear No. 1. He is, he said, “supremely more confident. Words can't even describe.”

Because Trickett earned his degree and is attending graduate school, he was not required to sit out after transferring.

The sudden switch to a more complex offense was difficult.

“I would like to think if I came out of high school (to WVU) it would have been a lot easier,” Trickett said. “Going from (FSU coach Jimbo Fisher's) offense to (WVU coach Dana Holgorsen's) offense are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Like, Jimbo, when he calls his play he wants that play. Here, it's when (Holgorsen) calls his play, if that's not a good play, you get to change it to whatever you want. Or the best play.”

Citing Trickett's command of the offense, communication skills and leadership, he is “light years ahead of where he was last year,” Holgorsen said.

Trickett “is probably a little bit ahead of what I envisioned, really,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. “A year makes a big difference in the mental makeup of a quarterback. It has a lot to do with the experience around him, too. Having capable guys around you helps. Especially up front. Those five guys are doing a great job up front.”

Trickett's surgery, performed by well-known orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, repaired his labrum, rotator cuff and AC joint. With all that damage, he kept playing — and getting hit. He is 6-foot-2 but listed at just 175 pounds. He has trouble gaining weight because of celiac disease, an intestinal disorder that requires a special, gluten-free diet.

“He's a tough kid,” said Trickett's father, FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett. “He's the youngest of three boys, and he has me as his old man, so he had no choice.”

In his fifth decade as a coach, the elder Trickett worked as an assistant at West Virginia from 1976-79 and again from 2001-06. Clint spent part of his youth in Morgantown, W.Va., before moving to Tallahassee, Fla., where FSU is located. Rick Trickett, a former graduate student and assistant at IUP, said he tried to talk his son out of becoming a Seminole.

“Nothing against Florida State, at all,” he said. “It was just a tough situation, everything being critiqued and stuff. I wanted him to be out on his own. I wanted him to do his thing and I do my thing.”

Trickett backed up EJ Manuel for two seasons, starting two games as a redshirt freshman, including a 336-yard debut performance in a win over Clemson. He transferred to WVU in May 2013 after losing a spring quarterback battle with freshman Jameis Winston, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy.

Rick Trickett said he thinks WVU can “surprise” this season, if Clint stays healthy.

“He's football heady,” he said. “He definitely earned the respect of the team. He'll take a shot in the mouth if it's worth seven points.

“His arm is as strong as it's ever been. He can shoot the ball pretty good.”

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com.

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