By Cam Huffman
Clint Trickett was trying to make a decision on where to continue his college football career. He had earned a degree from Florida State but still had two years of eligibility left and knew he wanted to finish somewhere other than Tallahassee, Fla.
Driving down the road one day thinking about the looming decision, he heard a familiar song. John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” come through the speakers, and he knew it was a sign. It was time to come back to the state, and the city, where he spent much of his youth.
On Saturday afternoon, the junior quarterback, who grew up around Mountaineer Field while his father, Rick Trickett, was coaching the West Virginia offensive line under Rich Rodriguez, was singing that same song with more than 57,000 of his closest new friends following the Mountaineers’ 30-21 home win over No. 11 Oklahoma State.
“I love that song,” said Trickett, who threw for 309 yards and a touchdown. “I love this state, and I’m glad to be back.”
Trickett has been back in the Mountain State since finishing up his final semester at FSU last spring, but he’s spent much of his time waiting. He entered the season as the favorite to win the job of replacing Geno Smith, WVU’s all-time passing leader, at quarterback, but WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen surprised everybody by starting junior Paul Millard in the opener against William & Mary.
Trickett was on the field just six snaps in that game, failing to pick up a first down, and he didn’t see the field at all in the Mountaineers’ next three — losses to Oklahoma and Maryland and a win over Georgia State. Millard started the 16-7 loss to Oklahoma, and redshirt freshman Ford Childress got the nod in the next two.
But when Trickett’s roommate missed practice this week because of a chest injury, Trickett knew it was his time.
“I had chances to do it, and I didn’t do it during camp,” said Trickett of winning the job. “A lot of the things I do are in game situations, so once I got a chance to get in a game, it was all good.
“It’s different when you’re a backup. When you’re a starter and you know everybody is confident in you, that’s big. Coach (Holgorsen) just told me to take it and run with it.”
That’s what Trickett spent much of the sunny afternoon in Morgantown doing. Officially, he ran for five yards on 22 carries, a couple of sacks ruining his rushing total, but, more importantly, he was able to move the pocket and keep plays alive, giving a struggling WVU offense a chance to score.
“I don’t think I bring that much,” Trickett laughed, minimizing his running ability. “It’s enough to get three or four yards. But I ain’t Pat White, that’s for sure.”
Trickett will surely admit he’s not Smith, either, but he threw some nice passes, including a 17-yard touchdown strike to Kevin White in the opening quarter that gave WVU a 14-7 lead that it never relinquished.
“It was pretty cool,” said Trickett of his first Mountaineer touchdown. “Kevin made a great play. He’s a great player, and I’m glad to see him making some plays. It was awesome.”
That, in fact, was Trickett’s best description of the entire afternoon, especially the postgame sing-along that might have even brought a little moisture to his eyes.
“It was pretty cool,” he said with a huge smile. “I saw some good friends I grew up with in the stands. It was a special moment. I had one of my buddies, Tyler Anderson, next to me. I grew up with him, so it was pretty cool.”
And it’s a moment Trickett wants to repeat as many times as possible before his Mountaineer career comes to an end.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “We have a long way to go. That’s what’s so exciting. We did beat the No. 11 team in the country, and we didn’t play our best game at all.”
— E-mail: chuffman@
register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.