By Cam Huffman
If you heard a sigh of relief echoing off the hills of the Mountain State Tuesday, it probably traveled all the way from Texas.
If not exhaling in relief, the Longhorns are surely shrugging their shoulders in disbelief after Tuesday’s news that West Virginia University running back Andrew Buie will be sitting out the 2013 season as a redshirt.
The same running back who led the Mountaineers with 851 rushing yards as a sophomore last season and ran through, over and around the Longhorns to the tune of 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 48-45 Mountaineer victory last October; the same No. 13 that has his jerseys on the shelves of department stores across the state — not that Nike or the NCAA planned it that way or anything — will spend this fall standing on the sidelines watching other backs carry the football.
“He’s got to develop mentally and physically,” said Holgorsen Tuesday after announcing that Buie, freshman wide receiver Shelton Gibson and junior linebacker d’Vante Henry would all be using redshirts this season. “We’re going to leave it at that. He’s not going to play this year. I fully expect him to be ready in the spring.”
Buie was partially a victim of depth. With Houston transfer Charles Sims picked as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, freshman Wendell Smallwood showing signs of a bright future, junior college transfer Dreamius Smith displaying both speed and power and junior Dustin Garrison, who was one of the go-to-backs in 2011 before an injury forced him to miss some time, all in the mix, somebody was going to have to be left out.
But Holgorsen hinted that there was a little more to the story.
“He had to make some decisions,” said WVU’s third-year coach. “Did we force him to redshirt? No. He just felt like it was in the best interest for him and in the best interest for the program to save his year.”
Other Mountaineers who will likely be using a redshirt, Holgorsen said, are Isaac McDonald, Darrien Howard, Malik Greaves, Ellijah Wellman, Jacky Marcullus, Stone Underwood, Marcell Lazard, Tyler Tezeno and Grant Lingafelter.
He expects freshmen Daryl Worley, Jeremy Tyler, Marvin Gross, Daikiel Shorts and Smallwood to all see time on the field.
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Holgorsen had no update on the quarterback situation Tuesday, saying both junior Paul Millard and junior Florida State transfer Clint Trickett will get 50 percent of the reps this week in practice. One of them, he said, will start, but both will play. He also said redshirt-freshman Ford Childress will be ready to go and could see action.
“I feel good about having three quarterbacks that we can put out there ready to play ball,” said Holgorsen. “We don’t live in a perfect world. Would I rather have a three-year starter returning at quarterback? Yeah. What we’re dealing with right now is the same as what 30-50 other schools are dealing with. It’s college football and graduations (happen). That opens the door for the next star to be born.
“I’m excited about the guys we’ve got, and I’m looking forward to going out there and watching them make plays.”
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WVU announced Tuesday that its athletic department will honor the 150th birthday of West Virginia by wearing a special logo this season.
“As the flagship institution of higher learning in the state of West Virginia, we take enormous pride in celebrating the sesquicentennial with Mountaineer fans,” said athletic director Oliver Luck in a release. “The state of West Virginia was forged from the Civil War, and the motto of the state — Mountaineers are Always Free (Mountani Semper Liberi) describes perfectly the approach that West Virginians have always taken. Our people are proud, hard-working and self-reliant, and, together with the citizens of the state of West Virginia, we are delighted to celebrate this important milestone.”
The logo will be displayed by each of the school’s 17 sports teams, with the unveiling Saturday when WVU hosts William & Mary for a noon football game. The football team will wear the logo on its helmets, while other teams will have stickers or patches.
In 1963, WVU celebrated the state’s 100th birthday by choosing St. Albans native Chuck Kinder to wear a No. 100 jersey. The NCAA approved the kicker to wear the number for the entire season.
— E-mail: email@example.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.