MORGANTOWN - Andrew Buie admitted having all those new running backs transfer into the West Virginia University fold put a chip on his shoulder. But the junior runner decided he better put that shoulder to the grindstone if he expects to earn any playing time this season.
"You want to play against good competition," Buie said. "It makes you want to do your job better."
Buie is the top returner among the Mountaineer ballcarriers, but Dustin Garrison is fully recovered from a knee surgery which hampered him at times last year. Newcomers Wendell Smallwood and Dreamius Smith are looking to get on to the field, as is Houston transfer Charles Sims.
"We are all trying to find our roles and help the team get better," Buie said. "I'm looking forward to filling my role to the best of my ability."
Sims, despite not playing a down for WVU, was the only Mountaineer to earn any sort of preseason recognition from the Big 12 Conference. Though a senior with only one year of eligibility remaining, Sims was tabbed to be the conference's Newcomer of the Year.
"He's a special running back," Smith said. "When you get the ball into his hands, you can see he can do something with it. Charles Sims has that burst none of the rest of us has. He will do nothing but help this team out."
Smith was the heralded newcomer from a Kansas junior college when he arrived on campus this past spring. He said he is hoping to use his 217 pounds to help WVU get those tough yards.
"Everybody is going to have the chance to play," he said. "There are a lot of weapons on this offense. Anybody who touches the ball has a chance to make a big play."
WVU, 7-6 a year ago, is forecast to finish near the bottom of the Big 12 this season, as it lost several key players to graduation and to the professional ranks. Buie said the Mountaineers are not paying attention to the naysayers.
"We feel like we're more of a team this year, so what others think doesn't matter," he said. "We have a lot to prove not just at running back, but as an offensive unit."