MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Already bolstered by a transfer competing at quarterback, West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen just might be in line to get some immediate help at running back, too.
Charles Sims, the leading career rusher at Houston and potentially one of the best multi-purpose backs in the country, is said to be considering West Virginia and California as his landing spot after deciding to transfer. A fifth-year senior, Sims would be immediately eligible because he graduated at Houston this spring.
Sims announced his plans to transfer and play elsewhere his senior season two weeks ago. That was after he'd announced in January that he was passing up a chance to enter the NFL draft and would play his final season at Houston.
It was widely believed that Sims wanted to transfer to Texas Tech. But despite having earned his degree, Sims still needs permission from Houston to contact any other schools about transferring and on Thursday UH coach Tony Levine barred him from contacting Texas Tech. Levine does not want Sims transferring to any school on Houston's schedule, any school in the American Athletic Conference (the old Big East, of which UH is now a member) or any school in the state of Texas, which eliminates Texas Tech.
After those stipulations were made, Sims is now considering WVU and Cal, according to ESPN's Joe Schad. Both of those schools - WVU under Holgorsen and Cal under Sonny Dykes - run similar-style "Air Raid" offenses, which is what Sims worked in at Houston. Holgorsen was also the offensive coordinator at Houston when Sims was a true freshman.
When Sims will decide his destination isn't clear, but he is likely to make up his mind soon so that he can enroll and begin learning teammates and playbooks.
Sims is a 6-foot, 215-pounder who was a first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2011 and a second-team pick in 2012 despite missing three full games and parts of three others with injuries. He's never been a 1,000-yard rusher, but only because he's used almost as much as a receiver as he's handed the ball.
Sims played as a true freshman in 2009, redshirted in 2010, then played the last two years. He rushed for 2,370 yards and averaged 6.2 yards per carry, scoring 29 touchdowns. He also caught 158 passes (70 as a freshman when Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator) for 1,707 yards and eight touchdowns.
If he does decide to play at West Virginia, Sims would join an already deep group of running backs that includes 2011 rushing leader Dustin Garrison, 2012 leader Andrew Buie, junior college transfer Dreamius Smith and freshman Wendell Smallwood.
The Mountaineers, of course, already have one new face competing in the backfield. Quarterback Clint Trickett transferred from Florida State as a graduate student and has two years of eligibility remaining. He's already enrolled in school.
Why Sims decided to leave Houston after announcing he would stay in January isn't clear, although he might want to spend his final season in college in a more high-profile program playing against power-conference competition.
There is also the possibility that Sims could again change his mind and not play another year in college. He could still enter the NFL's supplemental draft, which is expected to be held later this month.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com, or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.