A career bounce for WVU's Buie
MORGANTOWN - If you ask WVU's coaches behind the scenes to point to a potential rising star for next season, one name keeps popping up on offense.
And Mountaineer fans already know him.
He's a player that's already had two shots. A player that took advantage of the last one.
He's Andrew Buie.
Remember his story? As a true freshman, he started at tailback last season before scooting behind the scenes. Then, with Dustin Garrison injured, he provided a spark in the Orange Bowl.
This spring, Garrison is still out and Buie is trying to take advantage. One coach said the sophomore is "healthy and motivated."
"I'm just trying to take advantage of this spring practice," Buie said Tuesday night. "Taking reps, getting better."
There's room for improvement over last season. Buie had some fumbles. He had injuries, including one to the shoulder. In 11 games played he had but 172 yards rushing on 51 carries and 13 receptions for 85 yards.
"My worst memory was against Marshall when I got hit," Buie said. "That set me back for the rest of the year. I just got hit on the blind side. A screen pass that was thrown to me. More than anything it surprised me. My body wasn't ready for it. It kind of gave me a stinger, a bruise. I bounced back, though."
Not until the Orange Bowl rout of Clemson, though.
Yet what a bounce.
"My best moment was in that Orange Bowl," Buie said, "when I flipped over the guy."
Buie caught a first-quarter pass in that game and was seemingly tackled by Clemson safety Rashard Hill. The back, however, rolled over the defender, without being downed, and continued down the right sideline. It was a spark.
Now Buie is hoping to use that spark to reignite his career.
"I'm taking every rep I get and making the best of it," said the back. "I'm taking my time and making my reads. I want to get a step ahead for next year."
He'll have competition from Garrison, who is sitting out spring drills, and senior Shawne Alston. But Buie said he's learned a few things.
"All I can say is during the time I wasn't playing it gave me time to watch and learn," Buie said. "It helped me become a better player for next season."
The "A" back said he's now 5-foot-9 and 191 pounds. We'll see if he again starts the season No. 1 at the position.
"Honestly, I'm just trying to work hard and show Coach [Dana Holgorsen] what I'm capable of and what I can do," Buie said. "The decision will be his whether I play or not."
Those looking for Mountain State products within WVU's team know of Parkersburg's Josh Jenkins, an offensive guard. Also, Bridgeport's Wes Tonkery and Morgantown's Ryan Nehlen have had some success.
This season, however, you might also keep an eye on another Morgantown product: Tyler Anderson.
WVU's coaches have been moving players around along the defensive front to find the right fit. If you look at the depth chart, J.B. Lageman is No. 1 at tackle, while Jorge Wright is listed first at nose tackle and Will Clarke tops at end.
But lately Clarke has been at tackle. Jewone Snow, out this spring because of injuries, might be an end.
Anderson, though, seems to working his way into playing time along that line and at the Buck linebacker spot. The redshirt junior has been fighting lightning fast Josh Francis at Buck. But . . .
"Sometimes I'll be at end," Anderson said Tuesday night. "All of today and last week, I was at end and Josh was at Buck."
Chidoziem Ezemma, a 6-2 redshirt junior, is also at end.
"Me and Dozey," Anderson said. "That's pretty much it. Last week, Will was at the tackle and Jorge was at the nose. Shaq [Petteway] got healthy so we've been experimenting with him, too."
The Morgantown High product is 6-2, 244 pounds.
"I like to be physical," Anderson said. "I have speed. I haven't had the greatest of opportunities, but I think this year I have that."
We'll see if he takes advantage.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.