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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  • Monique Chandler

    We are proud of you and love you dearly!:-) Stay focused on getting your degree and work hard but smart on the field. Do your best to be your best on and off the field.

  • WVU

    why my comment got deleted nobody wanna know the truth about what really happen. Imagine losing your job to somebody who never put on the uniform. i would leave to if started camp behind 3 players that never put on the mountaineer uniforn. He a student athlete with no choice treated like ish and cant go anywhere cause of these rules.Its one thing to be out played but to never get a carry in practice after being the leading rusher. Not to mention he was 100 yards shy of a thousand the previous year but only got limited carries the last few games of Soph year.

  • fire dana

    I hate how coaches back kids in corners treat them like trash than expect them to just smile and say thanks. Ive seen how coaches mistreat student-athletes lol like student mean anything these glory seeking coaches making millions. Your just another kid ima use to make millions.

  • fire dana

    this whole thing is bull bottom line he got screwed over by the new RB coach and coach drunk man. He started the kid off on 5th string in the begining of camp before anybody took a snap/ Behind true freshman an juco RB. So instead of wasting a year he went home. The kid just being the bigger man instead ruining his father name and his name on some bull. college coaches use and abuse kids point blank. modern slavery

  • Hailey

    AB brings a certain toughness on the field that we were lacking last year. The guy can throw some wicked blocks and delivers some punishment when he runs.

  • Froggie and Tadpole

    Glad to see you back with the team. Some people don't realize how important family is. Life is short and Mom and Dad won't be around forever. You definitely made the right choice. Let's go play some football and have some fun.

  • john

    I have watched this program for 30 years this will be without question the deepest group of running backs at WVU. I don't know if one of these kids will end up being a Slaton, AB Brown, Noel Devine, etc type talent but as a group can't remember one with more potential.

  • 1olewvufan

    I listened to the interview and I felt the reports went overboard. Why Buie left and what he did with his time is no one's business. I liked how Buie handled himself. If that had been me and was being pressed to answer questions I didn't want to answer, I'd told the reporters where to get go, and if they needed a map to get there I'd gave them that as well.

    Reporters go overboard, and they try to dig into things that are none of their business. I hate it when I see this, just as much as hate half time interviews with coaches and players. The questions are dumb, and the reporters come across as stupid and arrogant.

    When Buie let them know he wasn't going to tell them anything, they should have backed off, instead of coming at him from different directions. This shows the lack of respect that the media has for the players and their privacy. How would they like it if the players begin asking them when they had their last drink or who they slept with the night before, or asked them pointed questions about their personal lives?

    Congratulations to Buie! You the man! Next time start asking these idiots about their and their family's personal lives.

  • eeridescent

    Welcome back, Andrew. It's refreshing to hear when a young man is willing to step away and view things from another perspective in order to understand his priorities. Football is great (go 'Eers!) as a sport and/or job, but it's only a facet of life, just like any other occupation. Glad you finished your walkabout and decided to come back. You will make us better.

  • Dave

    Welcome back Andrew Buie. You are definitely the kind of young man we want playing for WVU. Your family must be really proud of you. Get a good education and leave it all on the field. I also think Holgorsen needs commended for giving you another chance.
    Good luck Andrew on the path you choose in life.

  • John

    Andrew Buie is the type of student- athlete the NCAA should hold up as to how they would like young men and women to mature while in college. This was a refreshing read and every time I read a quote from Buie I thought I was reading something spoken by a 35 year old man.

  • cutty77

    I always liked this kid from day one. Now i like him more,because he has been honest with himself first,then football 2nd. Good things come to whom who wait. Andrew will be a Great Team Leader.

  • 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!!!