In 2013, the Mountaineers running backs were a deep unit, lead by senior Charles Sims, who ran for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns. Even with the departure of Sims to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the NFL Draft, the West Virginia backfield, will be just as strong, if not stronger.
The 2014 running backs corps will be lead by Dreamius Smith, who was second on the Mountaineers with 103 rushes for 494 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.
Next on the depth chart is Wendell Smallwood, who had 39 rushes for 221 yards and one touchdown in 2013. Smallwood ran into some off field troubles this offseason in his home state of Delaware but he was later cleared of wrongdoing.
Pitt transfer Rushel Shell is third on the depth chart. Shell had to sit out last year because of transfer rules. Shell ran the ball 141 times in 2012 for 641 yards and four touchdowns for the Panthers. Before 2012, Shell was tearing apart the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (better know as WPIAL) and setting Pennsylvania rushing records at Hopewell High School. Shell still has two years of eligibility with the Mountaineers.
Next in line are Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie. Plus, wide receiver Mario Alford may make runs in 2014.
Last season, Andrew Buie rushed for 851 yards as a sophomore in 2012, but decided to redshirt last season and take a semester off. While staying true to his word, he re-enrolled at WVU for this season. After being a standout as a freshman in 2011 where he rushed for 742 yards, Dustin Garrison has seen his carries and yardage slip drastically. Last year he carried the ball just four times for 19 yards.
Could Garrison be a bigger part of the rushing game in 2014? Unlikely, but in the case that injuries happen, he could be a crucial part of the West Virginia, possibly six punch, running back system.
With such a difficult schedule this season, the Mountaineers will likely utilize most of the running backs available, if not all six of them. Knowing Dana Holgorsen's air raid offensive tendencies from the past, one would think the running backs would be wasted, but with the schedule in 2014, coach Holgorsen could end up using the ground game more then what he was done in the past. As a matter of fact, he should.