The Mountaineers' running game heading into the 2013 football season appears to be in good hands, or rather legs, with a stable of seasoned ball carriers joining with a few talented newcomers.
"We've got downhill runners," running back Dustin Garrison said during a break in West Virginia University's summer conditioning workouts. "We've got guys who can make moves, catch passes."
Garrison is trying to return to his freshman form when he ran for 742 yards and six touchdowns, along with catching 24 passes before injuring his knee just prior to the Orange Bowl. That injury limited him during his sophomore season, as he only carried the ball 46 times for 207 yards, a lot less than he ran for in just one game against Bowling Green as a freshman.
But Garrison said he has had a great summer in preparation for a second go-round through the Big 12 Conference.
"Last summer, I was worrying about my knee," he said. "That's all behind me. I'm more focused on getting stronger."
He'll need that extra burst as Andrew Buie took advantage of Garrison's absence last season, rushing for 851 yards and seven touchdowns, along with catching 28 passes out of the backfield. That reception total also makes him WVU's top returning receiver.
The Mountaineers also received some welcomed news in the running game when it was announced that Charles Sims would be transferring from the University of Houston to spend his final season at West Virginia. Sims rushed for 2,370 yards and 29 touchdowns in three years in Houston, along with catching 158 passes for 1,707 yards and eight scores.
Throw in newcomers Wendell Smallwood and Dreamius Smith and consider there is only one football, and it makes for interesting thoughts should the Mountaineers be able to satisfactorily replace the three departing seniors on the offensive line.
"There will be so many aspects to our running game," Garrison said. "The competition will only make you better."