MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Junior running back Andrew Buie, West Virginia’s leading rusher last season with 851 yards, plans to redshirt this fall after slipping to fifth on the depth chart.
With Charles Sims, Wendell Smallwood, Dreamius Smith and Dustin Garrison repping at the top four spots in the backfield, Buie will use this season “to develop mentally and physically, and we’re going to leave it at that,” according to Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen.
This would be a juncture where transfer speculation swirls, but Holgorsen said of Buie on Tuesday: “I fully expect him ready to roll in the spring.”
Buie burned Texas for 207 yards in WVU’s 48-45 win in Austin last season, but later in the season he wore down in the role of featured back. With three new signees making impressive debuts in preseason camp, Buie figured to be used in a reserve mode, but Sunday night’s release of a depth chart didn’t mention Buie at all.
“He had some decisions—some of these are decisions he makes as well,” Holgorsen said. “Did we force him to (redshirt)? No. We just felt like it was in the best interest of him and the best interest in the future of our program to save his year.”
With West Virginia’s two-deep, and potentially three-deep, expected to see action in the opener against William & Mary, the coaching staff needs to prioritize all redshirt decisions sooner than later.
With that in mind, Holgorsen said the following freshmen were slotted to redshirt: receiver Shelton Gibson, safety Isaac MacDonald, safety Malik Greaves, linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton, fullback Eli Wellman, receiver Jacky Marcellus, and offensive linemen Marcell Lazard, Tyler Tezeno and Grant Lingafelter.
Holgorsen was uncertain about the status of linebacker Darrien Howard, who arrived on campus only Friday after being cleared by the NCAA. “He doesn’t look like he’s ready to play, but we have not been able to have one day with him in pads, so I don’t know where he’s at.”
In addition, two junior college signees—Spur linebacker d’Vante Henry and offensive lineman Stone Underwood—also are planning to redshirt, though Holgorsen said “redshirts could get pulled” if injuries necessitate.
“Which means the program’s in pretty good shape depth-wise,” Holgorsen said. “I didn’t want to play 12 to 15 freshmen last year, and I think our depth is better than it was. So it’s gong to enable us to be able to redshirt some guys.”
Kevin White and Mario Alford, two junior college transfers who are anticipated to be high-impact receivers, are questionable for the opener with foot problems, Holgorsen said.
Offensive lineman Adam Pankey, who tore an ACL in the spring and was projected to be out until October, is progressing ahead of schedule, the coach said.