MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Andrew Buie realizes how unconventional it looked, stepping away from football last August only days before the season opener.

Maybe the depth chart wasn’t to his liking after Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith arrived. Maybe football became a point of frustration rather than fulfillment.

Whatever the case, West Virginia’s leading rusher in 2012 pulled a vanishing act in 2013, heading back home to Jacksonville, Fla. And despite assurances from coach Dana Holgorsen that Buie planned to return, some weren’t convinced until they saw Buie back on campus in January, back from what the team called a “redshirt leave of absence,” back from he described as a head-clearing sabbatical.

“I kind of always knew in the back of my mind that I’d be back here,” Buie said Thursday night after the team’s third spring practice. “The break was really good for me. I was getting myself to where I need to be … more mentally focused, just maturing all around.

“When I say I was really just home spending time with my family and becoming a man, that’s all I did. Football was one of those things I had to remove from my life for a little while.”

The precise details surrounding Buie’s exit remain between him and his coaches, and amid repeated questions about how the situation unfolded, Buie asserted: “You don’t have to explain to the whole world what’s best for you. I felt like going home last semester, spending time with my family and getting myself together was best for me.”

The player who carved up Texas for 207 yards on an indelible night in Austin spoke fondly of the time away, especially for another chance to observe his father.

“He’s a barber, and just watching how hard he works everyday to provide for my brothers—he works crazy, crazy hours,” Buie said. “I’ve never seen a human being work like that. If I could have just half that work ethic, I should be all right in life.”

Even before Buie decided on returning to WVU, he took classes in Jacksonville and maintained conditioning with daily workouts. “I didn’t just go home, kick up my feet on the beach, relax in the La-Z-Boy every day,” he said.

Asked if home-state programs sought to convince him to transfer, Buie said “I stayed away from all that.” For the first time since he was 6, he was shutting himself off from football, which also meant limiting contact with West Virginia coaches throughout the season.

“I called every now and then, but it wasn’t like we tried to overcrowd each other,” he said. “Obviously I was home for a reason.”

And now he’s back for a reason, better equipped to compete for playing time in a still-crowded backfield that includes Smith, Wendell Smallwood, Dustin Garrison and vaunted Pitt transfer Rushel Shell.

“I’ve just got to go out there and be the best Buie I can be everyday, not worry about nobody else,” he said. “As long as I put myself in the best position to help the team, that’s all I can control.”

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  • Ragweed

    Classy and mature. Sounds like you are doing everything right, including getting to know your dad better before he is gone.

  • Aaron

    "And now he’s back for a reason, better equipped to compete for playing time in a still-crowded backfield that includes Smith, Wendell Smallwood, Dustin Garrison and vaunted Pitt transfer Rushel Shell."

    I've noticed in a couple of stories Allen that you don't mention 4-start recruit Donte Thomas-Williams in the RB scenario's. Is there a reason? Do you know something about eligibility that we minions do not?

    • Reggie

      I could be wrong, but I think it's because he won't be available for spring practices as he's finishing up high school.

      • Aaron

        The subject is playing time. Will young Donte not compete for playing time?

    • mad hatter

      how pathetic

  • TruthTeller

    Welcome back.I actually liked Buie more than Garrison. Look what he did against Texas and also against Clemson. I actually got mad when he left. Not at him but I knew WVU needed him and I thought he was one of the better running backs. I am so glad he is back. Once a Mountaineer always a Mountaineer!!!

  • Troll

    Welcome back young man, I hope all is well in your life now. Also need to thank coach Holgorsen for giving this young man the time he needed to correct his personal life, it shows true compassion for these young men.


    Welcome back!!

    it's great to have you back with the team... your leader ship is needed in the club house.

    Let's Gooooooooo!!! Mountaineeeeeer!!!!!

    (limit the distractions and focus your role!)

  • mntnman

    Way to go young man. Thoughtful decision. Hope it gave you the time you needed to be successful in life.

  • Guardian

    Whether it's football or another path, I am convinced Mr. Buie is destined for success. He exhibits a remarkable maturity for one his age.

    Welcome back, Andrew! Play some ball, but most importantly get your degree. You will always be a Mountaineer.

  • jay zoom

    glad your back give it all you got now that your back on the field. have a fun season.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    If we're fortunate, we are blessed by realizing how hard our fathers work for us before it is too late.

    Mr. Buie, you have blessed my day.

    Go Mountaineers, go Herd!

  • GregG

    Great to have him back. Even greater to see that he knew what was best for him and was mature enough to take the time to get his things in order. A+ all the way!!!!!!!

  • LH

    A young man whose priorities are where they need to be. The comments about his father shows that he knows what is really important in life.

  • DP

    Welcome back to WV, Andrew. Hopefully you'll have a productive season, but the MAIN thing for you is to get your degree!
    I also remember the great play against Clemson-it will forever be embedded in my head! Best of luck Andrew!!!

  • RogerD

    Welcome home, Andrew. My fondest memory of you is that one pass play from Geno Smith against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The tackler thought he had you down and didn't. You bounced up and kept running. I'm looking forward to many more memories, Andrew.

  • DC

    Welcome back! Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer!!

  • Pat

    Welcome back! Everyone needs a self assessment every now and again. Looking forward to seeing in the backfield. Stay strong and all will work out. I'm sure your dad is proud and humbled to know how you respect him!