MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The first-take impression of Charles Sims? He looks pretty good for a fourth-string running back.

Of course, Sims won’t be at the bottom of the depth chart for long. That’s merely a symbolic starting point for the University of Houston graduate transfer, whose arrives at West Virginia for his final season of college football sporting a mountain of expectations.

Expectations Dana Holgorsen is clearly trying to temper.

The coach kept his comments conspicuously brief Thursday evening when asked about the buzz Sims is creating among teammates and offensive coaches.

“It is all positive. He is a good kid and works hard.”

That was it—a miserly 12 words. Heck, Holgorsen sounded more excited discussing the kicker.

Brevity aside, Holgorsen knows what he has in Sims, same as anyone who watched the kid run, catch and score for three seasons in Conference USA. Now comes a step up to bigger, badder Big 12 competition, and Sims must prove himself anew even as outsiders presume he’ll become an instant hit. The media christened him Big 12 preseason newcomer of the year, convinced Sims’ versatility and Holgorsen’s knack for exploiting matchups will synchronize nicely.

After a half-hour of watching Sims take reps in shorts, he certainly looks the part. Listed at 6-foot even, he’s noticeably taller than Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison and Dreamius Smith—the three running backs slotted above him on a depth chart that actually shows some depth.

“It is nice to look out there and see four or five guys that have the potential to all be starters,” said Holgorsen, noting WVU has been “living on the edge” the past two seasons, when injuries gave unwanted implications to the term empty backfield.

Now Holgorsen sees a chance to riddle defenses with multiple packages and fresh-legged runners, though for now he’ll relish the camp competition, and a depth chart that at any moment could turn bottoms up.

Freshman four-star receiver Shelton Gibson wore a red non-contact jersey and a brace on his right knee. He spent the media viewing session riding a stationery bike and walking loops around the field with redshirt freshman offensive lineman Adam Pankey, who’s recovering from a torn ACL.

Holgorsen said Gibson “tweaked his knee a couple of weeks ago and is progressing as well as possible.” Any absence of more than a week or so could derail Gibson’s hopes of cracking the starting lineup for the opener against William & Mary.

But the coach relayed encouraging news about Pankey, who at the time of his spring injury was projected to be sidelined until late September or October.

Junior college linebacker Brandon Golson—one of three signees facing uncertainty leading up to camp—was on the field and wearing No. 32. But his spot on the MIA list was taken by another juco signee, outside linebacker D’Vante Henry, who Holgorsen said was “working through some personal issues.”

Two high school recruits, safety Isaac McDonald and linebacker Darrien Howard, are awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

“Nobody has been ruled out,” Holgorsen said.

After senior Tyler Bitancurt (11-of-19) ranked only eighth in Big 12 field-goal accuracy last season, Holgorsen proclaimed this year’s job belongs to a redshirt freshman.

“Josh Lambert is our kicker,” he said. “We feel comfortable with Josh. We feel good about Josh. He is our kicker. Don’t know if he is our kickoff guy—we’ll figure that one out. But he’s our kicker.”

Bitancurt was 5-of-11 from beyond 40 yards, but had three kicks blocked and missed from 50 (twice) and 55 yards. His season-long was a 52-yarder, and Lambert looks capable of matching that leg strength. He hit from 51 and 53 yards at Garland (Texas) High.

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  • Tim C

    Sims will get a lot of carries.

  • Daniel

    Coach is doing a great job on the offensive side of the ball. I hope he pays attention to the defensive needs as well. If you score 35-40 points a game, great. If you allow 50 points a game, not so great. Being a true Mountaineer, I have faith that the future holds great things with this team. Lets Gooooo......Mountaineers!!!!

  • Shawn

    This is the first time i've seen a WVU football team look this conditioned. These kids are in great shape and they are some BIG kids. Dana and his staff are doing a great job recruiting and getting these guys in football shape.

  • Maxxajay

    Sounds like Sims will be our number one running back I hope so... He has the numbers that he had in Houston we will be fine on running backs ..WVU will fly low under the radar and will surprise some teams like Oklahoma,Oklahoma State,Texas, and TCU look out..9-3 for the year....

  • tw eagle

    hearin the noise , but not feelin the passion . .too early to feel the real grind . . .
    BUT , find 'spike mc gowan' to feed some
    life into a Mountaineer team lacking in spirit
    and will to win . . .I wanted to be a Mountaineer . . .Spike was a Mountaineer
    in all but reality . . . coach corum hated
    walk ons . . . too many bodies to work with . . .
    he discarded too many West Virginia boys because they weren't fast or couldn't jump
    high enough . . .find the spike Mc gowans
    and you'll regain the days of the Robert( sam) Huff and fred wyants . . .

  • tw eagle

    man . I hated the blocking sled . . . although it was a seven man sled at that time . . .the 2x10 heads up mano a mano was a different story . . .2x10 was an actual 2x10 pine that was 10 years old and full of splinters . . .beat your man heads up period . . .low man wins . . .got knocked out by Don Travinski on a head to head hit . . .got even by spearing Don in a practice weeks later . . .forty years later , college seems like a cake walk . . .