West Virginia defensive lineman Will Clarke talks to members of the media at a breakout session Tuesday for the Big 12 Conference football Media Days in Dallas.
By Jenn Menendez Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DALLAS -- Running back Charles Sims transferred to West Virginia to crank up his NFL draft stock in the Big 12 Conference, coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday at the league's media days event.
Sims, a standout at Houston, was named the Big 12 newcomer of the year earlier this month before he was even listed on the team's roster.
"He'll be a Cougar for life, but he wanted to be able to play in the Big 12 to be able to increase his draft stock, which we'll put him in position to be able to get that done," said Holgorsen.
Sims doesn't have to sit out a season because he graduated from Houston.
Sims, who rushed for 851 yards a year ago, first crossed paths with Holgorsen when he was recruited to Houston. Holgorsen coached Sims there in 2009 before leaving for Oklahoma State, then the Mountaineers.
"We're extremely fortunate to have his services for one year. He's a great kid," Holgorsen said.
"I know he's been nicked up a little bit here the last couple of years. I didn't promise him anything. He knows what I'm all about. He knows how I coach."
The Mountaineers have lost a bounty of key players on offense from a year ago, which means they will need all the help they can get, Holgorsen said.
"He knows what our offense is about, so we need some playmakers on offense, after losing, I think, 90 percent of our production last year or whatever that crazy number is."
Offensive lineman Quinton Spain said he expects Sims to be the starter at the only offensive position that has a significant amount of depth.
"I watched his highlight tape, it was pretty impressive. That was a big steal we got," Spain said. "I bet he's going to start, unless something happens, someone shows up and outplays him. Why would they bring him here for one year and let him sit out?
"He's versatile. He can catch the rock and he can run. He'll be good in the backfield."
Holgorsen said he will bring in referees during preseason to help teach the new targeting rule that was introduced Tuesday by Big 12 director of officiating Walt Anderson.
"We'll bring referees in, we'll meet about it, research it and make sure we know what we're talking about it before we explain it to our kids," Holgorsen said.
He said he expects even after all of the learning and teaching and explaining there will come a time when a ruling rubs them the wrong way in a game.
"We'll probably still at some point get called and not agree. So what do you do? You move on," he said. "There's no other way to do it. Referees make decisions. They're human."
Players at event
West Virginia brought defensive end Will Clarke, safety Karl Joseph, and Spain to media days, a year after playmakers Geno Smith and Tavon Austin made the trip under heavy expectations.
"You know, it's funny, last year when asked about how we felt about having the spotlight on us, we always felt like we had something to prove. Now we really do have something to prove," Clarke said.
"We have to pretty much redeem ourselves from the performance we displayed. We have an underdog mentality."
West Virginia was chosen last week to finish eighth in the 10-team league's preseason media poll.