MORGANTOWN — A sly grin spread across the face of West Virginia receivers coach Tyron Carrier when asked about speedy threat Marcus Simms.
“I want everybody to keep talking about David (Sills) and Gary (Jennings) so nobody pays attention to little ole Marcus over there, until he hits you over the top for about three or four touchdowns and everyone will be like, ‘Wow,’ ” Carrier said.
Carrier is right, Sills and Jennings have gotten the bulk of the attention this offseason as to why the Mountaineers’ offense could be one of the best in the nation. But Simms, the No. 4 receiver last season, has the big-play ability he proved a year ago.
He led the team in yards per catch, at 18.9, and all but one of his five touchdown grabs were over 40 yards.
With Ka’Raun White gone, Simms role should grow heading into this season, and Carrier is sure Simms’ maturity on and off the field will be able to handle the added expectations.
Simms missed the season-opener last year against Virginia Tech following a DUI arrest, but Carrier believes that’s in the distant past.
“When you get older, things just aren’t as important as they used to be, like the crazy stuff,” Carrier said. “He’s so focused and there’s just a big difference. It’s great when you can see kids grow up, and it’s been a headache and a pleasure watching Marcus grow up.”
Kickers can be athletic, too
Coach Dana Holgorsen likes kicker Evan Staley’s maturity and mental toughness, but the first thing he mentioned was his athleticism.
“He’s athletic and he has a really good mindset,” Holgorsen said. “The talent level is there; he has really developed himself into a really good kicker. He’s our guy, and from a maturity standpoint and athletic standpoint, he’s where you want him to be.”
The former walk-on from Romney earned a scholarship in May after converting 6 of 7 field goals replacing the injured Mike Molina last season.
While at Hampshire High, Staley did a little more than dabble in football, though.
“I played soccer and ran track my freshman year, and I gave that up to focus on kicking, and then I played basketball, too. I enjoy a lot of sports,” he said. “I think [playing other sports] helps a lot. One sport that I really like but I didn’t really play was golf. I played it in my off time. I didn’t play it at school, but a lot of it that people don’t know transfers over into kicking. I enjoy all sports because I feel like it helps me in my game.”
Offensive line coach Joe Wickline was asked about the progressive of Sills at left guard and if his progress was where Wickline wanted it to be.
“Who, David?” Wickline said, laughing.
Of course, the question was about Josh Sills, who was thrown into the fire as a redshirt freshman last year. It was an up and down season for Sills and he played out of necessity when Grant Lingafelter went down in the first game against V.T.
“Josh has a lot of ability and his is all mental,” Wickline said. “He’s a great guy and is gonna be a great player. He’s talented … but it’s baby steps. You see some great things but then he’ll throw a no-hitter and whiff on a guy.
“He’s finally starting to understand his role in the scheme — before, he would go to the right and then the left and back to the right again before settling on the left. I think he works well with Yodny (Cajuste) over there and he’s really starting to fit in.”