MORGANTOWN - Charles Sims already felt comfortable with the West Virginia offense, and now he feels comfortable around his Mountaineers teammates.
The University of Houston transfer decided to forego his final season with the Cougars. But instead of opting for the lucrative dollars being dangled in front of him by NFL teams, he decided he needed a final year in college.
"It was mostly a family decision, and I wanted to graduate," Sims said Tuesday. "That was the most important thing. I needed another year (in college) to improve myself in everything."
Sims joined an already crowded field of running backs when it was announced this summer that he would be joining the WVU football team. He earned almost instant notoriety, being the only Mountaineer product to earn any sort of preseason recognition honors from the Big 12 Conference. Despite already having three seasons of college competition under his shoulder pads, he was named the Big 12 Conference's preseason Newcomer of the Year.
"He is a great running back and has a good burst (of speed)," fellow running back Dreamius Smith said. "When you get the ball into his hands, you can see that he can actually do stuff with it. We are going to work on something between him and me, of course, with maybe a big back package."
Shannon Dawson, the Mountaineers' offensive coordinator, said having players like Smith, Sims and returning starters Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison available to carry the football gives WVU a luxury it often times did not have last year.
"The thing about running back is, a lot of them are going to play," Dawson said. "If you watch college football, you need a lot of running backs to withstand the season. It is a physical game, a physical position, and those guys take a beating. To have multiple of them that can play so that you are not giving 90 percent of the reps to one guy will make you better."
Dawson said the offense won't change with the addition of so many talent running backs and a depleted receiving corps, but added the focus of the play-calling might.
"If you have a lot of running backs that are capable, then you want to get them the ball in every way possible and as much as possible," he said. "We are just trying to get the ball to the best players. The easiest way to get a running back the ball is to turn around and hand it to him."
Whatever the focus, whatever the role, Sims is looking forward to proving he can make the leap from Conference-USA competition to the Big 12 and do so in a way to help the team in a positive manner.