MORGANTOWN — As West Virginia’s football camp moves into its second week of practice there remains a three-pronged battle at quarterback between a pair of holdovers from behind Geno Smith in Paul Millard and Ford Childress.
But there’s a newcomer who probably is the leader in the clubhouse because really, he is no newcomer at all.
While Millard and Childress are from Texas, Clint Trickett is as West Virginia as pepperoni rolls and buckwheat cakes. He grew up here, the son of former WVU assistant Rick Trickett, and, in truth, always wanted to play for the Mountaineers.
What’s more, he is not a newcomer to big-time football action, either, his first meaningful action having been unlike few other quarterbacks anywhere.
It was 2011 and he was a redshirt freshman, coming in for E.J. Manuel, who would eventually become a first-round NFL draft pick. Manuel was injured while trailing No. 1 Oklahoma, 13-3, in the third quarter, with Trickett coming on in relief.
The FSU run game was non-existent, gaining four yards on 13 carries, and Oklahoma was just teeing off on the pass rush.
Trickett, though, would have none of that. On the first snap he went deep and drew an interference call, completed two passes in a row, then hit a 24-yard seam route to set up a field goal.
Later, with 10 minutes left to play and FSU down 13-6, Trickett found receiver Rashad Greene with a perfect pass that went 56 yards for a tying touchdown against the nation’s No. 1 team.
Even though Oklahoma eventually won the game, Trickett was the toast of Tallahassee and, a week later, starting against unbeaten Clemson in Death Valley, he passed for more than 100 yards and a 57-yard TD in the first quarter that showed he had both skill and arm strength to get things done.
So, how come he transferred here after the spring quarter, especially since Manuel is gone from FSU?
Trickett’s biggest reason was he always had wanted to play at WVU, but couldn’t work it out.
In truth, Trickett wanted to come out of high school and as recently as after the last fall semester, but he failed a class that left him just short of enough credits of graduating in two-and-a-half years.
Don’t be knocking his intelligence for failing that class.
“I tried to take 18 hours during the season while playing football. That was rough. I almost did it,” he said.
So Trickett stayed in the spring, went through spring football but failed to win the starting job, adding to his desire to leave.
“Things were uncomfortable down there with Dad being on the staff,” he admitted. “I don’t want to get into that too much but it was really uncomfortable and I had to get out.”
One can only imagine what it was like, especially knowing his father’s method of coaching. Rick Trickett is an offensive line coach and he’ll raise his voice on occasion, sometimes with X-rated conversation, and might even throw his ball cap at you.
You could see how that might make things a bit uncomfortable among teammates, and then with the head coach passing him over for the starting job other feelings could be strained.
Of course, had he won the job in the spring ….
“It would have been a little tougher to leave. I would have had to sit down with my family,” Trickett said.
As he looked for a place to play, WVU topped his list.
“After spring, I knew I was coming here. It was a no brainer. I’m from here. I’m a West Virginia kid,” he said. “It didn’t really work out when I graduated high school. I didn’t get recruited then by WVU because it was running a different offense.”
Other schools approached Trickett when word got around he was transferring, but he wasn’t buying what they were selling.
“During the second recruiting process, some other schools were pretty quick to say the job’s yours if you want it. I didn’t like that because it’s college football. You’re going to have to compete wherever you go. I didn’t trust it when schools said that,” he said
Holgorsen on the other hand said only that he would have a chance to compete for the starting job.
“I trusted Dana when he said ‘I’m not promising you anything but you will get a chance,’” he said.
So now Trickett is here and starting over. Jimbo Fisher ran a pro-style offense at Florida State compared with Holgorsen’s up-tempo Air Raid attack.
“Everything here is progression where everything was coverage based. I have to go through the reads and stay on this and always be ready to throw on a second’s notice. Everything down there was fifth step, the ball’s out,” he said.
He’s learning new terminology, new techniques, dealing with new players and how to run an up-tempo offense.
“That definitely is a difference. You have to go, go. You have to forget the last play,” he said.
And then there’s the idea of competing for the job.
“I competed against E.J. the first two years and I competed this spring. I’m used to competing. Anywhere you go, you are going to have to compete. It’s part of the game,” he said.
Email Bob Hertzel at
Follow on Twitter @bhertzel