West Virginia's Trickett, Sims form a bond as newcomers

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- It didn't take long for West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett and running back Charles Sims to get comfortable with each other.

When Trickett transferred from Florida State in May, he said he had never even heard of Sims, a Houston born-and-bred tailback. Now, they're roommates.

After Sims transferred from Houston in late June, Trickett reached out to him. Sims has spent his first weeks in Morgantown staying at the townhouse shared by Trickett and wide receiver Connor Arlia.

The soft-spoken Sims and charismatic Trickett complement each other well.

"Charles was definitely shy that first week, but he came out of his shell," Trickett said, laughing. "I'd say he's is one of my closer friends on the team now."

Both players graduated from their respective schools in the spring. Trickett has two years of eligibility remaining and Sims has one but both can play immediately.

The marquee transfers, expected to fill crucial roles for the Mountaineers this fall, talked publicly on their transitions to West Virginia for the first time Tuesday.

For Trickett, the transfer was a homecoming, "a no-brainer."

Trickett grew up in Mountaineer country, as his father, Rick Trickett, was the West Virginia offensive line coach from 2001-06. When his father left for Florida State in 2008, Clint went too, visiting Morgantown twice each year.

"I wanted to come here out of high school, but it didn't really work out," Trickett said. "[I] didn't really get recruited, and it was a different offense here then."

After three years of losing battles for playing time at quarterback in the pro-style Seminoles offense, Trickett's eyes were set again on West Virginia. He originally intended to transfer after the fall semester last year but an academic misstep -- a failed class due to an overbooked 18-credit semester -- kept him in Tallahassee through the spring.

As for Sims, his link to the Mountaineers is through coach Dana Holgorsen, who was Houston's offensive coordinator for Sims' breakout freshman season in 2009 when he scored 10 touchdowns and was the only player in Division I to gain more than 600 yards rushing (698) and receiving (759).

Sims said it was his familiarity with Holgorsen and the offense that attracted him to West Virginia for his final collegiate season.

The transfers haven't been handed starting positions. Holgorsen maintains that the backfield battles have begun, and he has not set a timetable for naming starters.

The competition was anticipated. While being recruited by other teams this spring, some coaches guaranteed a starting spot, Trickett said. Holgorsen promised far less.

"I didn't really trust what the other coaches were saying," Trickett said. "I just trusted what Dana said -- 'Hey, I'm not promising you anything, but you're going to get chances.'

"That's all I could ask for."

The Mountaineers have four or five capable running backs in the mix, headlined by Sims and Andrew Buie, who both rushed for more than 800 yards last season.

"Charles is a very explosive back," Buie said. "He doesn't waste any time once he gets out of his cut to get north and south very quickly. That's something that a lot of guys in our room can learn from him."

The position battles will shake out slowly over the duration of fall camp, but for now, Trickett and Sims are focused on getting comfortable -- with their teammates, their playbooks and their new surroundings.

Sims, the Houston kid, sat with his back to the south end zone of Milan Puskar Stadium and couldn't help but sneak a glance over his shoulder toward the field as he spoke.

"It's going to be a different stage," Sims said with a smile.

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Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.


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