MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Clint Trickett wanted to sign with West Virginia in 2010, only back then WVU didn’t want Clint Trickett.
Then he planned to transfer to WVU last December, but a failed class delayed his Florida State graduation until spring.
Now, at last, he’s here, in the place he felt destined to be all along.
The kid who moved from Morgantown as a high school freshman seven years ago—but never really left it—returns as a 22-year-old college junior. On Tuesday morning he strolled into the players’ lounge overlooking Mountaineer Field and became a daydreaming youngster again.
“I always wanted to play here, in this stadium, for these fans,” Trickett said.
But will he play? Can Trickett trump Ford Childress and Paul Millard in a quarterback tri-meet that is the daily talk of fall camp?
At least Trickett senses he’s getting a legit chance at WVU, the kind of opportunity he apparently wasn’t afforded in Tallahassee, where the pro-style offense became the domain of taller, broad-shouldered passers.
“Some people wanted that prototypical quarterback, and I’m not. I’m 6-2, 185 and I’m going to be that,” he said. “Down there maybe my size did hurt, but not up here.”
Trickett said Dana Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson don’t worry much about the measurables, “as long as you get it done.”
He seems refreshed, completely in his element, at home. He kept up with Morgantown friends throughout his time away, making at least two trips back each year, so there’s no shortage of loved ones in the area hoping he succeeds. Of course he left his biggest fan back at FSU, where his dad Rick Trickett remains the offensive line coach. But the dynamics of that situation weren’t necessarily advantageous.
“Things were uncomfortable down there with my dad being on staff,” said Trickett, clarifying the problem was “not so much with the players because I was just another one of the guys. They didn’t treat me like a coach’s kid. I was just their quarterback. The players were fine.”
He declined to specify the source of the uneasiness, too diplomatic to lob criticisms from 850 miles away, but there are some fans who continue to chide his father for the Seminoles’ offensive struggles. And there were others who questioned why Clint was offered a scholarship at all—apparently forgetting that Florida and Arkansas also recruited him.
Trickett leaves it at this: “It was really uncomfortable,” he said, “and I had to get out.”
He would have gotten out five months earlier, but his plan to graduate in 2 1/2 years hinged upon taking an 18-hour course load last fall.
“That was rough,” said Trickett, who realized he overcommitted early in the semester. “Yeah, by like Day 2.”
So he finished his social sciences degree in late May and bee-lined it to West Virginia to begin summer workouts a couple days later.
Trickett moved into a townhome with receiver Connor Arlia, and for a few weeks in July the two played host to another high-profile transfer, Charles Sims, who did some couch crashing until finding his own place.
The new quarterback soon counted the new running back among his best friends on the team, and Sims—after spending his entire life in Texas—couldn’t have asked for a more invested Morgantown tour guide. Though the Tricketts lived in Starkville, Miss., when Clint was born and subsequently spent six years in Auburn, none of those places gave him the hometown feel.
Quincy Wilson, who played running back when Trickett’s dad was coaching the Mountaineers’ offensive line, is now the program’s director of player development. A few days ago he started reminiscing about the 10-year-old Clint who used to pop up around the football offices.
“Quincy said, ‘Man, it’s cool to see you out here,’ and it is,” Trickett said. “It’s good to be back.”
The mountains, the “flying WV” on the stadium facade—for Trickett this place re-opens a gym bag full of memories, and over the next two seasons he plans on building some new ones.