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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  • Newfan

    Just make sure that whomever gets the starting job, whether he is spoke of good or ill on here, that you support him 100%. GO MOUNTAINEERS!!!!!

  • Kinduvabigdeal

    Ford will start. He's Holgorsen's only true quarterback recruit EVER, and he's been running the air raid for as long as Geno did already. He didn't bring him here to learn on the bench. I don't think anyone questions which QB has the highest upside, and that's the starter. But I don't consider the week 1 starter our actual starter. Our starter is the kid under center in Norman, week 2.

    We'll have a typical Mountaineer season - we'll pull off one or two upsets and drop one or two we should've won. 7-5.

  • Kenny

    I want Ford to start, I really wouldn't mind having a kid around for four years to watch grow and improve!

  • Old Gold

    I have no idea what the W and L tally will be. The Mountaineers haven't played a single game yet. O line has to gel. D line has to get a lot more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Linebackers have to make tackles. Defensive backs, well they have a lot more work to do. Too many guys out of position, too many mental mistakes, too soft on coverage. Karl Joseph was the only bright spot. Everyone has to step it up and bring it! Us fans need to believe and support. Go Mountaineers.

  • Boomgrounder

    I think this years team has more overall talent compared to last seasons team minus Geno, Tavon and Steadman. The good thing is that Holgorsen's history is that he has always produced top of the line QB and WR corps. The talent is certainly in place for him to do so again this season. The RB's are as talented and deep as WVU has ever had. If Coach Patterson can coach the defense to a decent unit and DeForest can keep our Special Teams from beating ourselves WV should be very competitive in the Big 12. Every year is a new season! Last year was last year!

  • Daniel

    This Trickett boy is for real. He has experience, he has talent "and" he has football savvy. If you grow up around the game as he did (father coaching), you understand what it takes to win. I'm sure he has watched enough film deciphering defenses to know the what's, where's and when's to run an offense. This is not a "Rod the Fraud" offense where all receivers block downfield. They aim to spread the field and "PASS" the football also!

  • David

    So you mean to tell me a guy who could not cut it at an elite FSU can walk right in here and is the savior. Either that says something about our expectations or about our level of recruiting.

    If he were that good he would have started at FSU this year.

    • Allan Taylor

      @David: Careful with that theory. Joe Flacco could not "cut it" at Pitt and transferred to FCS Delaware. The Seminoles signed and redshirted the top QB prospect in the country, so the fact that a backup transferred is not automatically an indictment of Trickett's skills. And no, I'm not saying he's the next Flacco.

      • Shawn

        Well said Allan! Most of the time its the system that helps a kid transform into an elite QB.

        • rekterx

          The first thing wrong with David's statement is the notion that Trickett "could not cut it" at FSU. He cut it just fine. And if anyone doesn't believe that they can ask Auburn and the other schools that were making a pitch for Clint Trickett's services once it became known he was looking to transfer.

          Even Don Nehlen said that Trickett's arrival in Morgantown meant an upgrade for the team.

  • Cliff w

    Holgs offenses have always excelled every time he had to start over with a new qb. We must get a defense that is capable of making some stops, we're so far off on D that it will continue to be mediocre

  • Andrew

    I honestly think WVU will be better at every position on the field this coming year.
    QB play will still be outstanding no matter who plays....Holgy is a magician with QB's
    WR lost two big tallents but makes up for it with more depth. We will have the same total yards but it will be spread to 5 different guys instead of only to two guys - which is better because it is harder to defend!
    RB will be a huge upgrade from last year with Sims and Dremius. WVU could have the best backfield in the big-12.
    OL lost some guys but the replacements are bigger and are all upper classmen with lots of real game experience.
    Overall the offense will be better than last year because the OL is bigger, the running game is gonna be sick (meaning defenses will actually have to defend the run) and the wide receivers will be all over the field.

    DL has three seniors and a stud JUCO transfer, it will be better.
    And the linebackers and Defensive backs all return and all have more experience this year and are in their second year in the new defensive system. So the entire defense improves too.

    • Andrew

      I am thinking another 7-5 season at worst with bowl win makes WVU 8-5. But I will pick 8-4 regular season with a bowl win for a 9-4 year.

      • Art in Ohio

        Would be very happy with 8 wins.

  • westfair518

    I read a post that said Trickett had 2 more years. How could that be since he graduated early. Did not he play at Fl. for 3 yars?

    • Allan Taylor

      @westfair518: After redshirting in 2010, Trickett played the past two seasons at FSU. He graduated in three years and thus becomes a rare "graduate transfer" with two years of eligibility remaining.

  • cutty77

    Man,Let me get off here. Before you guys are done with Trickett he will win The Heisman. I changed my mind, i want him to start so we can get This BS over with. Comparing him to Geno. WTF

  • Shawn

    Geno wasn't very smart with the football. He always wanted to get the ball downfield but sometimes you have to throw it away. Clint looks more comfortable in the pocket. It will come down to how the O-Line performs. If he has time he'll do good things.

  • Shawn

    And tell me these throws don't look like what WVU's passing offense looks like.


      Agreed.The pass against Clemson for 50 plus was spot on. He ll be just fine

  • Shawn

    Good footwork and the key is he keeps his eyes down field. He'll be just fine.


      He makes better choices in his progressions down field. When he is pressured he knows when to fling or flee opposed to getting sacked like Geno did last year

  • Chef Camille

    Trickett gets the starting job more transfers will occur. But that's the nature of the game.