MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two returnees, a sought-after junior college signee, one speedy freshman and a soon-to-arrive transfer who’s projected among the top five running backs in next year’s NFL draft.

WVU athletics

WVU first-year running backs coach JaJuan Seider.

Is JaJuan Seider loving his return to WVU or what?

The Mountaineers’ new running backs coach—hired on March 8, a mere blink before the start of spring practice—now can hardly believe the unit unfolding before his eyes. It’s a group deep with versatility, experience and, perhaps an even more crucial component, drive.

Seider, while joining the crew at MetroNews “Sportsline” on Wednesday evening, said “the biggest thing that I see is some kids with chips on their shoulder.”

He cherishes the chip because it transports him back to his days as a Mountaineers quarterback from 1995-98, when “we weren’t expected to be good so you had to go outwork people.”

Though the next college coach who praises his players’ offseason habits will only be the gazillionth to do so, it appears Seider is genuinely enthused to see his guys working overtime.

“These kids, they live around the stadium and you see them all the time doing extra stuff on their own,” he said.

WVU’s two returning juniors both have starting experience—Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison—and both carried reputations as guys willing to put in the work. Both earned significant playing time as true freshmen and Garrison rehabbed a torn ACL diligently enough to return to action in 10 months.

“You’ve got depth, so if a guy needs a break you can take a guy out and not have to worry about changing play-call. That’s exciting for us on offense.” — WVU running backs coach JaJuanSeider

Add to that mix junior college recruit Dreamius Smith, who chose WVU over Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Kansas, and early enrollee Wendell Smallwood, who spurned offers from Auburn and Tennessee. Then came last week’s midsummer gift: University of Houston transfer Charles Sims, an elusive senior with top-grade receiving skills.

“You’ve got depth, so if a guy needs a break you can take a guy out and not have to worry about changing play-call,” Seider said. “That’s exciting for us on offense.”

The 5-foot-11, 217-pound Smith showed both smash and dash during the Gold-Blue spring game, gaining the corner on one run and dragging tacklers on another.

“He may be the fastest running back (at WVU) and he’s the biggest running back, so he does a lot of things well,” Seider said. “You can tell he’s a junior college player—he picks up things fast.”

“The thing you like about Dreamius is that he comes in and he works. The biggest thing for him is having a summer with (strength coach) Mike Joseph to get his body in the best shape and to understand how to play 12 or 13 games in the Big 12.”

Beyond the ballcarriers, however, Seider reminded fans about the inspiring offseason produced by sophomore H-back Cody Clay, the George Washington High alum.

“He had the best spring out of everybody, and you could put any coach in this chair and he would say the same thing,” Seider said. “He just does everything right, and he does everything hard. Even when he makes a mistake, he goes hard to where you can’t always see his mistake.

“He’s a West Virginia kid and his whole life was to be at this place. Guys saw how he practiced everyday. He cares, and that’s the only way to describe it.”

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  • Brew

    Glad to have Coach Seider back working for the Mountaineers.

  • John

    This year should be a good year considering we lost so much talent, and it will take a little time for us to get our bearings, but we have a lot of pride at WVU, and we will fight hard, i think last year was a time for much learning, and in a lot of different ways, i think not only in skill, but in a lot of bad attitudes, which i think hurt our team a lot, a lot of poor sportsmanship, and feeling we had the cat in the bag when we needed to go out and earn these wins, there was way to much listening to the media, and the hype of how good we were, and it got into the heads of our kids, and it hurt us a lot, then there was that awful defense, and that also put to much pressure on the over worked offence, but we have learned from these things, and i think this year will be the beginning of an uphill climb, that we will make, and accomplish, and when we have the right attitudes, and these things need to be taught to kids just as much as skill needs taught, then we may surprise a lot of people this year. We may not win all of our games this year, and we may not be the best, but we will do better than other expect.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Offense, offense, offense. That's all I keep reading about on here. Unfortunately, as we know all too well from last year, if you can't stop anyone, you won't beat anyone. Everyone looks like an All-American in shorts and a helmet. I'll wait until September to decide where this team is.

  • eliotz

    Folk's lets face it, this is a typical WVU Football scenario where we excel. The underdogs sneaking up on our conference and the national rankings. I don't know about the rest of you but as I saw the pieces fall into place, all the way up to when Sim's joined the team in the last couple weeks, a sense of "here we go again" kept growing within me. Granted we're not in the Big East anymore, but history has proven that we play our best and have our best seasons coming from from below the bottom of the rankings and fighting and scratching our way up. The Big 12 doesn't really know this about us. Except for maybe Oklahoma, who we've upset in bowl games twice, dropping them from 11th, and 3rd to end their seasons. But it sounds like the rest of the Big 12 is about to find out, to watch out for the Mounties most, when we are un-ranked and un-respected. It's ironic how the press always forgets. And without Beano Smith around to remind them, we should stay comfortably under the radar. Get ready for another great year to be a Mountaineer... and somebody start buying some season tickets! That drop from '11 and '12 embarrassing!!

  • Steve

    You guys who want to fire Huggs are crazy, We go to a final four with only one real deal player, This is the first year we don't dance in a long time and we fire him. We would be the laughing stock of NCAA Basketball. We are not quite in the league of Duke, Kentucky, NC or Kansas.Every school but a select few goes through rebuilding years and down years. You guys don't know didly as the saying goes.
    The football team will surprise and that will be good, The running backs look good and if the Defense can step up we will be fine. The problem we have is the fan base has been spoiled and we have no patience. Get behind the EERS and quit this dumb bashing so the recruits will want to come play for WVU. Everybody reads the bashing and that has to make recruiting harder.

    • eliotz

      Man do I agree! Good on ya Steve!

  • Helen5844

    I am thrilled with all the talk about the RBs. Also hope to see Charles Sims maybe do some WR work as well. I did not think we had a top notch O L last season so now that we have some new faces, maybe they will be better also.
    I am looking forward to seeing Karl Joseph, and Nana Kyeremche on defense. I saw an article the other day that said Nana was a blazer. Almost all of the defense is experienced now so they should be a lot better. Looking forward to the season beginning. LETS GOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS

  • Lee

    I agree that it is stupid to want Huggins fired. I don't care for his ranting and brow beating the players (for all to see) when they screw up, but it was obvious that many of the players were not giving it 100% and Huggins won't stand for that. Neither would I!

  • Jimi Johnston

    If no one expects The U to only win three or four games then we should not be too disappointed

  • Dave

    big tom, I bet you even hate to get up in the morning. What a sourpuss. I really feel sorry for your children and grandchildren if you have any.

  • WVU_93

    Good to see all the strength and depth at RB with a new quarterback in tow. This should help our improving young defense.

  • Paul

    What I know of the kicking team it will be much better. Our kicker and punter are just plain better than last year. I think there are some real positives for this season. We may actually be able to control the clock with our RBs, wouldn't that be nice for a change with 2 minutes left up by 7.

  • Ryan

    I like the backfield. Its the best we've had since Slaton (not counting Tavon as a RB). I know this team is young and has its weaknesses (aka no qb), but lets be honest here. Every QB that has been a part of Holgersons system has thrived. One of the three will more than likely turn out to be a solid option as the season progresses. Im not worried about recievers either. We wont have a tavon, but someone has to catch all those passes. Im still more worried about the defense. All we really have is karl joseph. Overall we still have the talent to go 6-6 but to do any better than that, we are going to have to have a lot of these young inexperienced guys step up.

  • Rugger

    Gee chad, I thought you were being sarcastic...i guess my comprehension skills need some sharpening.

  • George

    I have 2 concerns with the WVU Football Team going into the 2013 Season: (1) The Kicking Game, (2) and one that I am not overly concerned with is the OL.

    The Offensive Backfield is the strength of the Offense, more especially the RBs. The strength of the Defense is the DL. However, with Coach Crook heading up the OL and Coach Mitchell heading up the CBs, I suspect both will perform much much better than last season. The Safeties and LBs should produce much more this season than last.

    I am looking forward to seeing the play of Charles Sims, Mario Alford, Dreamius Smith, Karl Joseph, Isaiah Bruce, Brandon Golson, Kevin White, Sheldon Gibson and several others.

  • clair thompson

    Fire Huggins!! you have got to be kidding. Who are you going to kick next? Jerry West, come on. All the hype is just that, let the season play out.