WVU's Garrison Anticipates Strong Competition at RB - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU's Garrison Anticipates Strong Competition at RB


After the construction crew at the Milan Puskar Center wraps up the new weight room, it might want to take a look at expanding West Virginia's running backs meeting room.

The Mountaineers looked to have quite a crowded backfield when spring practice came to an end and the rushers were showcased during the team's final scrimmage and that was before adding another piece that could very well be a game-changer.

Houston transfer Charles Sims joins the rotation now and many expect him to shine in his one and only season of eligibility with WVU. But then what of the players like Dustin Garrison, Andrew Buie, Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood who were already seen as a deep and talented stable of backs?

The addition of a proven talent like Sims did not sit well with everyone in the running backs room when the decision was made.

"The first thing that ran through my head, I was a little disappointed," Garrison, a rising junior, admits. "I thought we had the amount of numbers we needed, but at the same time, it's good to have guys like that. It increases the competition."

Garrison is no stranger to competition. He looks back to his freshman season when it was a race that featured himself, Buie and Vernard Roberts, who is no longer with the Mountaineers. That year, they fought it out on the field and despite Garrison seemingly waiting in the wings, he took advantage of his opportunity and was seen as the top back.

Fast forward a year and Garrison is competing in practice to regain the trust he once had with his coaches after suffering a severe setback with knee surgery in the offseason. Now healthy, that competition is likely as stiff as it has been since he first arrived.

"That's all I've known," says Garrison. "That competition brings the best out of everybody. You think that you've been here, that it can be handed to you, but having a new guy comes in, it increases competition, increases the pressure, but it makes everybody better."

That new guy coming in just happens to have had more rushing yards in nine games with the Cougars last season than any of WVU's backs put up. Sims is thought to be the real deal, despite having played against lesser competition in Conference USA.

The question for Garrison and his teammates already on the roster was how would this new player fit in with a group that had become good friends throughout the spring?

"Me, Dreamius and Charles, we all worked out [Monday] and it was a good workout. We got to know him a little bit better, watched him work out and just talk with him," Garrison says of Sims. "He seems like a good guy, so I think having him a part of the team is only just going to make us a lot better."

Garrison says he hasn't spoken with his position coach, JaJuan Seider, much since Sims made his transfer, but he believes the move was done to keep the entire group healthy and capable of plugging in at a moment's notice. It's also a sure sign that he and Buie and Smith need to be ready to prove their importance to the offense so that they don't lose whatever reps they hoped they'd have this season.

For Garrison, there may be more of a reliance on his receiving skills. For his career, Garrison shows 33 receptions for 244 yards. In his freshman season, when he also led the team in rushing, he was the seventh-best receiver on the team, compiling more yards than last year's No. 3, J.D. Woods.

He doesn't rule out the possibility that he could have a whole new position this fall depending on where the staff feels he can best be used.

"If [head coach Dana] Holgorsen needs me to, I can either move to receiver or get more passes out of the backfield," Garrison says. "I think that is another strong part of my game, so if needed, I think I'll be successful catching passes."

Garrison will more than likely remain at the running back position, but his openness to a change in order to be most effective is the sign of a player who wants nothing more than to be on the field making a difference for his team.

At this point, before the team gets together for camp in a few short weeks, Garrison and the rest of the backs are simply jockeying for position in what should be a fun competition to keep an eye on well into the season.

"I'm not really too sure how it'll work out," Garrison says. "I don't know what Holgorsen has up his sleeves, but I think either way, we'll have a successful offense throwing and running the ball."

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