Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

After backing up two NFL first-round draft picks at Florida State, Clint Trickett gets an opportunity to rebrand his career under Dana Holgorsen’s tutelage.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — During the four months following Geno Smith’s final collegiate pass, Mountaineer Nation discussed, deliberated and in some corners despaired over which of the heir apparents, Paul Millard or Ford Childress, would inherit the promotion to starter.

Then May 1 dawned, Clint Trickett announced he was transferring to West Virginia from Florida State, and the conversation shifted faster than a Tavon Austin cutback. Now, after a summer of seven-on-seven drills and strength conditioning, fall camp opens Thursday with one unmentioned yet undeniable truth encompassing the WVU offense.

This is Trickett’s job to lose.

Dana Holgorsen hasn’t said so directly, but nondeclarative comments can’t obscure the fact Trickett ignored smoother paths to playing time at Auburn, South Florida and Kentucky. Sure, Trickett spent seven formative years in Morgantown, but he didn’t come back for the pepperoni rolls.

Though Holgorsen and the newcomer contend no starting job was promised, Trickett could see there is promise in the opportunity to finally become a full-time Division I starter.

“He’s got confidence in his abilities,” Holgorsen said last week in Dallas. “But it wouldn’t be fair to anybody if I just gave him the job. He’s got to go earn it.”

Trickett might have earned the job at FSU if not for the overlapping presence of Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel—two first-round NFL draft picks. And with the Seminoles grooming five-star recruit Jameis Winston—a kid Holgorsen noted “looks a lot like the quarterbacks who just left”—Trickett was on the verge of being typecast as a career backup.

With his undergraduate degree in hand, Trickett became a free-agent with immediate eligibility. What better spot to be reborn than under Holgorsen, a coach with a 13-year track record of starting quarterbacks who averaged 4,655 yards passing?

Trickett hasn’t spoken with the media since announcing his transfer plans, but his father, FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett. suggested Tuesday that WVU has landed another quarterback capable of prospering in Holgorsen’s uptempo attack.

“The thing he always did well here was the 2-minute offense,” Rick Tickett said in a MetroNews “Sportsline” interview from Tallahassee, Fla. “Even when he was a true freshman, he could take the ball down the field. Some guys have a knack for that.

“We did a lot (offensively) and he knows a lot. I think he’s well-adapted to all the coverages. I think he really knows the game. He’s a smart kid and he can throw the football.”

If that rings too much like a proud papa talking, consider what that dadgum former Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said upon seeing Clint work out among a slew of talented high school quarterbacks at an FSU camp in 2009.

“Of all the quarterbacks there, Coach Bowden said, ‘I want that one because he’s got ‘it,'” Rick Trickett recalled.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett absorbed some shots at Clemson in 2011 but threw for 336 yards and three TDs in a 38-24 loss.

Perhaps Holgorsen has seen ‘it’ in Clint Trickett as well. He certainly has seen the kid exude more toughness than you’d expect from such a scrawny build.

“What I saw on tape that stood out more than anything was durability,” Holgorsen said. “Everybody thinks Clint’s not durable because he’s thin. Well, I saw some guys from OU and Clemson hit that kid about as hard as anybody’s ever been hit, and he jumped up and was right back in the middle of it.”

Attribute some of that resilience to Trickett’s dad’s, a man Holgorsen called “one of the tougher dudes in our profession.” And dad confides that Trickett is no longer so fragile-looking, claiming the junior added 16 pounds over the summer. (Heck, maybe he did come back for the pepperoni rolls, though dad credits the pounds to some nutritional muscle-building with WVU strength coach Mike Joseph.)

The next chapter in what could be a happy homecoming narrative involves Trickett reaching the incremental milestones established by Holgorsen.

“I want to see a guy separate himself, whether it’s taking control of the huddle, making the correct throws, making the correct decisions, making the correct run checks, getting the other guys on the team to develop confidence in him,” Holgorsen said.

“That may take a day or it may take two-and-a-half weeks. The sooner the better.”

Now, as the unannounced frontrunner, it’s Trickett’s turn to prove he’s better.

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  • chad

    Trickett will be the starter. Millard sucks we've seen that, and from what I hear Childress is a diva with a big arm who feels entitled and doesn't want to work very hard. Trickett on the other hand, from what i hear, is smart with a great work ethic. He doesn't have the biggest gun but he make the right reads and gets the ball where it needs to be. He'll be the starter for 2 years then Crest (if he keeeps his commitment) Childress may never se the field.

  • leroy jethro gibbs

    the offensive line will make or break your quarterback

  • Casual Fan

    Good article Allan. I enjoy reading your work much more so when it's actually about football, as opposed to say, third tier media rights. I suspect you probably prefer writing about football.

  • Mike

    I'll wait on Dana to name the front runner and not put undue pressure on Clint Trickett, I did enjoy reading about Clint being the front runner, I just don't want to get my hopes up to high on Trickett and this Offense, it will take some time to come together and Oklahoma is second game of the year. I can't wait!!!


  • Shawn

    Holgorsen is playing this year a little different than last. He's not building this team up like the media did last year and I think this is a good thing. He's flying this years team way under the radar and he already knows who the starting QB is this year. I hate to burst a few bubbles but Millard will not start nor will he play this year. He is truly the 3rd string QB. Look for our running backs to steal the show in the first game. I'm calling 330 yards rushing and 275 passing in that game.

    • big tom

      get real,,, i love wvu, but there is absolutely no intelligent reason to build this team up

      • Shawn

        No're a fair weather fan. You only want to get on their side when they are winning BCS games.

        I'll be the first to admit that I thought we were over hyped coming into last season. We didn't have near the playmakers we needed to win a Big 12 Championship. And just like this year, i'm not saying we are going to win a Big 12 Championship but I think we'll be right in line for a 8-4 season.

        We were limited to Tavon & Sted to throw to. Thats a recipe for disaster once teams start to make adjustments at half time. We have several WR who are very capable of contributing in a big way, we have some very good talent in the backfield and the D will be faster, stronger and better than last year.

        I build this team up because that's who i root for and unlike you i want to see them do well. I'm not that guy who turns the tv off when they get scored on or things are going right. Fans need to understand that no matter how good you are, you will be scored on in the Big 12. You have to learn and move on.

        • Maxxajay

          @ Shawn well said... I agree

        • Mountain ninja

          We had J.D. to throw it to as well. No consistent run game other than when Tavon was in at the end of the season and about the worst WVU defense ever sealed last year's fate. Our D will be better this year because it can't be worse, and the run game should be too with the arrival of Sims. It all hinges on the o-line. I think Clint wins out. Up-tempo, quick release, get the ball to the playmakers in space and let Sims do his thing.

        • WVU06

          I don't understand. Just because someone has a different opinion doesn't make them a fare weather fan. I'm a huge WVU fan. My wife and I rarely miss any home games, but even I'm intelligent enough to know we could struggle this year. That has nothing to do with my fandom and more to do with reality. WVU fans can be fans without believing in 12 and 0 seasons every year. We have a better chance of 12 wins than nine. I will still be at every game buying my eight dollar beers and cheering on my eers. I just don't think we're going to more than six or seven games.

          • WVU06

            Win more than six or seven games.

    • Big Larry

      He's not plating it up because he has nothing to play up...

      Look for the Mountaineers to finish 5-7

      • hailey

        what in the world it "plating it up"? Your post this time was more confusing than your other ones on this site and that is saying a lot.

        Do you have food on your mind again BIG larry ?

      • Shawn

        Is it possible they could go 5-7...sure it is. They could also go 12-0 if the chips fell the right way. The nice thing about this years team is you don't know what to expect and that should excite people and scare other teams.

        I see a better record than 5-7. I'm sticking with 8-4 like i have from the beginning.

        • Tim

          Shawn, I like your
          optimism. Big Tom needs to get some of that.

          Anyhow, after last season's horrendous underachieving I can see how Big Tom and others are down on the team. However, I'm still excited for the season to start. I love the Mountaineers and I'm always hopeful they can win every game. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to bet on that but I am hopeful. Isn't that what being a fan is all about?

          Lets Go Mountaineers!!!

        • big tom

          ok , name the teams we beat

          • Shawn

            William & Mary
            Georgia State
            Texas Tech
            Iowa State

      • Maxxajay

        As I have said before Larry you must be a Marshall fan and a half Mountaineer fan...

    • Maxxajay

      @ Shawn I agree with you 100%. That is why I keep saying a nine and three season Dana learned his lesson last year with all the Heisman talk with Geno....

      • big tom

        we don't have t he depth to compete,, yes, we;ll rout w and m ,and ga state, who wouldn't but i'm not so sure we beat maryland, and it's essentially down hill after that.
        we are outclassed in about every position vs. okla. okla state, kstate, tcu tex , baylor, tt , and maryland is a toss up,,,
        so who do we beat to win 9 games.

  • Brent

    Last time we had a quarterback competition entering a season some guy named Pat White separated himself.... that was a pretty good season

    • J.P.

      Don't think so Brent. Pat White got the start after Adam Bednarik got hurt. Pat did well enough that Adam never really got back in the lineup. So, starting the season, Pat did not distance himself from the competition.

      • Brent

        You are right Pat just did "well enough" lol If you read my post I was talking about the entire season

        • J.P.

          Well, you said last time we had a quarterback competition "entering" the season. Thus my comment. And by "well enough" i mean that his playing level increased enough over Adam's to justify being the starter. If you remember Adam was completing 65 - 70% of his passes. He was also taking a ton abuse due to lack of running game(Slaton had yet to emerge) and inexperienced offensive line.

          • Brent

            You are right that offensive line magically got better during the Louisville game and for the rest of the schedule after that. Im aware that steve slaton didnt emerge until the Vt game When Adam was starting we were squeaking out wins against awful Syracuse and East Carolina teams. Once pat white became the starter we blew teams out. Thats what I call seperation in a quarterback competition and if you think we would have had the same results with Bednarik at qb you are entitled to your wrong opinion.

  • tw eagle

    sorry big tom . . . I see the Mountaineers winning a lot more than 4 games . . .AND , not knowing how games will actually go , i'd
    guess the #1 qb to start W&M and #2&3 to
    split second half . . .i'd expect #2&3 to split
    all the play in the Ga state game . . .i'll take
    another shot at smith and say the WVU
    team will be more interested in building a
    winning program than in building a personal resume of big numbers . . .

  • big tom

    i don't want to see 3 with lots of game time,, maybe two but not 3,,,, we aren't good enough to go with 3 qb;s unless we get routed every game, which almost could be the case,,,,, 3 to 4 wins is our best ,, sorry, reality strikes again.

    • Maxxajay

      Six and three in conference nine and three overall do the math. And no Pinstripe Bowl the big 12 will not go to the Pinstripe bowl ACC and Big ten got that bowl.....

      • big tom


    • JAS

      You sure your name isnt "clemson tom"? Smh

  • tw eagle

    coach holgerson wants to win , so i'd guess he'll go with who gives the team the best chance to succeed . . .AND , he won't leave the future in the lurch like last year by not
    giving game experience to other QB's . . .
    i'd expect all three to see 'good' game
    time . . .not just mop up duty . . .

  • Ricardo

    If I am a coach and have three guys that are that close in talent and ability, and one has 4 more years with me...I'm choosing the RS Freshman! This decision now will key in our future championship team. I think Holgs is twice as smart as me, so he understands this.

  • Wemakerain

    Good read Allan, just make sure you get Clint the gluten free pepperoni rolls

    • Allan Taylor

      Nice one, Wemakerain. I'm sure Mike Joseph has the training table properly stocked.

  • big tom

    for sure, if clint gets the job, Ford will transfer. no doubt in my mine about that... he could transfer before the season, set out one yr, and have three to play,,, i think.
    i hope he's the man, think how good and experienced he would be as a senior,.,, however, may the best man win.

    • Vinnie

      Not a very astute observation. Childress will probably play a lot this year and then have 3 yrs to start...why would he leave? Unless he is not very talented..

      • Sean

        Well if Trickett wins the job this year, he will be our QB next year as well, as he has 2 years of eligibility. And take into account we have a top QB dual threat recruit from Dunbar in William Crest.

        I think its very possible Ford transfers this year if he doesn't win the job.

    • Tom

      There's no doubt in my "mind" that you are out of your "mind." (Unless you work in the "mines.") You have your opinion-I have "mine."

    • JB

      Ford has 4 years to play yet. One more learning on the bench then he will be the man. He is not going anywhere unless he feels he cannot when the job next year for sure.

      • Omar

        If Clint wins the starting job Ford will technically only have two years as the starter. Clint has two years of eligibility remaining. It's highly unlikely Ford will stay if he has to sit behind Clint the next two seasons.

        • eliotz

          Unless he gets his degree this year, due to the transfer and sit out a year rule, it wouldn't be smart for Ford to leave even if he doesn't start this year. He could end up at a Junior college, a 2-A or not starting at all if he sits a year. If he stays, he at least has a shot at taking over on an injury and he will start at least one year. If he had transferred this year, it might have been a decent move but its really too late for a transfer to work out well for him now. It worked for Clint because of his degree he didn't sit.

      • gv


  • Michael Walker

    Nice article, Allan Taylor.

    • wvman75

      I agree.

      • JS

        Especially since he mentioned "pepperoni rolls" twice in the article!

        • enchantedbunny

          yummy pepperoni rolls. oh yea... Go EERS!

          • Daniel

            I miss the pepperoni rolls so freakin bad.

  • JRS

    I have heard that Ford hold the lead right now.
    For competition sake coaches will not announce until a week or so before first game. Now this before adding Trickett. I think Tricketts might earn it when fall ball starts with his experience, but I have heard Ford will be a close second if not out right starter by 3rd or 4th game.

  • Patrick

    I am pulling for Paul to get the start, but will be happy with any of the QB contenders as long as they lead our Mountaineers to a great season.

    • Cliff w

      R U MAD?