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.
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.”