MORGANTOWN, W.Va -- The Andrew Buie saga took an unexpected twist Tuesday when West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen announced the junior running back will redshirt this fall.
Buie led the team last season with 851 rushing yards and seven touchdowns but is now buried behind senior transfer Charles Sims, true freshman Wendell Smallwood, junior transfer Dreamius Smith and junior Dustin Garrison.
Holgorsen said Buie needs to develop himself "mentally and physically" and expects the tailback to be ready in the spring.
"He had to make some decisions," Holgorsen said. "Did we force him to redshirt? No. He just felt like it was in the best interest for him and in the best interest for the program to save his year."
Buie's decision to redshirt is curious in that the Mountaineers will return an almost identical stable of backs next fall -- trading only Pitt transfer Rushel Shell for Sims.
Time for newcomers
With seven junior-college transfers and five true freshmen on the depth chart, there will be plenty of players making their Mountaineer debuts in the season opener Saturday against William & Mary.
Getting the newcomers' feet wet early is critical, considering a marquee matchup with Oklahoma is 10 days away.
"Whether they're guys that were or weren't in the program, there are a ton of guys who haven't taken college snaps," Holgorsen said. "It can be a concern to some, and it can be exciting to others. I take in the exciting part."
The coaching staff will pay particular attention to which players control their nerves and which "go into a shell" when they take the field in front of 60,000 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium.
"Some guys will elevate their game and some guys will get wide-eyed and not do what we want them to do," Holgorsen said. "We have to identify that, and there's only one way you can identify that."
Redshirt, injury report
The wide-receiver corps was 20 players deep two weeks ago, but transfers and injuries have trimmed the depth down to size. The latest hits, Holgorsen announced Monday, are the foot injuries to junior college transfers Kevin White and Mario Alford.
In addition to Buie, Holgorsen listed first-year players Shelton Gibson, Jacky Marcellus, Stone Underwood, Ellijah Wellman, Malik Greaves, d'Vante Henry, Isaac McDonald, Darrien Howard, Marcell Lazard, Tyler Tezeno and Grant Lingafelter as players expected to redshirt.
"All of these guys, they could get pulled based on depth, injuries and a lot of other stuff," Holgorsen said. "The program is in pretty good shape depth-wise. If you can get all of those guys to develop over the next year and not lose a year, that's great."wvusports
Stephen J. Nesbitt: email@example.com and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.