WVU's Simms Pushing for Starting Role in Year 2 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU's Simms Pushing for Starting Role in Year 2

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Marcus Simms works with receivers coach Tyron Carrier in the 2017 fall camp. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) Marcus Simms works with receivers coach Tyron Carrier in the 2017 fall camp. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
MORGANTOWN -

Tyron Carrier may have wanted to keep it a secret, but he spilled the beans Monday afternoon.

“We’ve just got a really great corps,” he said. “The best thing about it is nobody knows it.”

Now entering his second season as a full-time assistant coach, Carrier is in charge of a group of receivers without its two most productive targets from 2016, Shelton Gibson and Daikiel Shorts. Those departures made way for a competition that could last through the entire 12-game schedule this fall with a rotation that seems to have Carrier positively tickled.

One of the beneficiaries of a less experienced receiving corps is rising sophomore Marcus Simms.

When Simms first came onto the scene with two touchdowns in the 2016 spring game, head coach Dana Holgorsen said that he needed to redshirt his first year. That may have been the plan, but the reality was that Simms made nine appearances as a freshman, tallying 95 yards and a touchdown on six receptions.

A little more than a month before his sophomore campaign begins, Simms is currently practicing as the starting X-receiver, according to Carrier. The transition he has made from year one to year is apparent to the coach who has had the opportunity to see him from the first moment he got on the field at West Virginia University.

“One of the biggest things that I believe in coaching – and of course, I haven’t done it that long – is making freshmen sophomores,” Carrier said. “You’ve got to give them the chance to grow. We’re asking 17-, 18-year-olds to take something really seriously. The chances of doing that are rare. Very rare.”

Whether Simms was taking his craft seriously last season or not, Carrier believes there is no doubt that he has begun to do so in the past few months. He recalls the very conversation when he knew the light had turned on for a young man who was ready to take the next step in his mentality and in his maturity.

“Coach, man, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Whatever you need, I’ll do it,” Simms told Carrier.

“He’s putting in the work, he’s accountable, he’s everywhere he needs to be,” Carrier said. “He’s actually here earlier than every other receiver.”

And as far as the athlete on the field, well, no one has ever questioned that about Simms.

“His play says it all,” Carrier said of Simms. “He can play anywhere.”

  • Charleston native Druw Bowen is turning heads this offseason. The George Washington High School graduate made a name for himself in his true freshman year when he reached back with his left arm to make a one-handed touchdown grab during practice. Video of the acrobatic reception spread across the Internet and suddenly people outside of Kanawha County had a taste of Bowen’s potential.

This season, he may just get the chance to show it off when the lights are on.

“He’s going to play. He’s my secret,” Carrier said of Bowen. “Druw’s a great player. He took the initiative this summer, because he had really bad pad height issues, and he just took the initiative to work on that every single day. He sent me videos of him running routes and doing these certain drills and asking me, ‘Coach, what do I need to do to fix these problems?’ And he did every single thing I told him to do to fix these problems.”

  • David Sills’ return to the Mountaineers immediately made him one of the more experienced receivers in the room and his showing in the spring game was a sign that he may become one of Will Grier’s favorite weapons this fall.

“I told him when he got here, you’re going to have to be an example because I’m not going to give you anything,” Carrier said. “You’re going to have to work for everything you get. He put in the work. He’s the reason why everyone was here during the summer putting in that type of work.”

Sills had six receptions for 98 yards in the spring game and finished his redshirt freshman season with seven catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns.

  • Gary Jennings told me in the spring that having Will Grier as his quarterback means he may be open even when he isn’t open.

The junior receiver would find himself running a route and realize he had defenders over top and underneath of him and essentially give up on the idea of getting the ball on that play – until suddenly the ball was in his hands.

More and more Mountaineer receivers are coming to the same realization that they have a quarterback who will find them, so the idea of giving up on a route cannot enter their thinking.

“Now they know it’s a race to get open,” Carrier said. “They know Will will put it in a little pocket for them. They’re big on being everywhere they’re supposed to be as far as route running and doing everything they’re supposed to do. The most important thing is having the quarterback trusting you. They bought into that. You get a group of guys doing everything they’re supposed to do and a quarterback depending on you and a guy that can just put it through that little, fine needle, man, it’s Grade A for success.”

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