MORGANTOWN -Dreamius Smith knows the margin of error could be slim in a crowded West Virginia backfield this season.
The Mountaineers are stocked with talent at the position, as a mixture of veterans and newcomers will be fighting for playing time.
Smith came out of spring drills No. 1 at the depth chart. The senior rushed for 464 yards in 2013, second to Charles Sims, who is now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But Smith said Friday – during the second day of fall preseason practice – a weight issue kept him from putting up better numbers last year.
“It was shocking to me to gain weight during the season,” said Smith, who gained 13 pounds from Week 1 to season’s end. “I couldn’t get my knees up, and I?couldn’t do what I used to do.”
Entering preseason camp, Smith is determined to learn from past mistakes, especially knowing the competition he will face at the position.
“Coming in this year, I have a better mindset and I know what I need to do,” Smith said. “I feel a lot better and know the schemes of the defense better.”
Along with veterans Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison, Pitt transfer Rushel Shell is in the mix at running back.
Sophomore Wendell Smallwood, who was recently cleared of criminal charges he faced in Delaware, is another expected challenger.
“Having a lot of running backs keeps all of us healthy,” Smith said. “Once one of us comes out, the next one can do it.
“Other teams have great backs, but we will use ours to our advantage and do what we can with them.”