MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Never underestimate Clint Trickett’s desire to be West Virginia’s starting quarterback.
It may ultimately win him the job or serve as just an interesting footnote if he ends up as the backup, but he’s wanted to lead the Mountaineers from when he was in high school and through his time at Florida State.
“I wanted to come here after the fall (last year), but I failed a class and didn’t have enough credits, so I went back in the spring,” Trickett said Tuesday, the first time he’s been allowed to speak to the media since transferring May 1. “After the spring, I took a couple visits, but I knew I was coming here.”
Trickett, a redshirt junior who has two years of eligibility remaining, stacked up a tower of course hours last fall so that he could graduate early, transfer and then participate in spring practice to prepare for the coming season.
“I tried to take 18 hours in season,” he said. “That was a rough fall.”
Trickett, whose father, Rick, is the offensive line coach at Florida State and held the same position at WVU for seven seasons, waged an unsuccessful battle for the starting spot against redshirt freshman Jameis Winston in the spring. He decided to transfer and considered Auburn and USF, but chose the place he wanted to pick coming out of high school, even when the feeling wasn’t mutual.
“I came to camp here. I really tried at it, but it just didn’t work,” he said. “They ran a different offense. I understand that, but I always wanted to play here in this stadium and for these fans.”
Things didn’t go so smoothly at Florida State, either. He redshirted in 2010 and played in 17 games and started twice the past two seasons, but he couldn’t beat out E.J. Manuel or Winston.
That Trickett finds himself in another quarterback competition with redshirt freshman Ford Childress and junior Paul Millard is perhaps advantageous. Neither Childress nor Millard ever had a chance of unseating Geno Smith at WVU and aren’t used to the everyday dynamics of the situation.
“I think anywhere you go you’re going to have to compete,” Trickett said. “That’s part of the game and I know what to expect a little bit, but everything else is new.”
That’s not necessarily bad for Trickett. For starters, he enjoys his surroundings now. Trickett said he’s made two trips to Morgantown every year since the family moved to Florida seven years ago. He also expressed relief at being away from the unique arrangement he could not escape at Florida State.
“Things got uncomfortable down there with my dad being on the staff,” said Trickett, who insisted there were no problems with other players. “I don’t want to get into that much, but it was really uncomfortable and I had to get out.”
Trickett also feels more comfortable with Holgorsen’s offense, even as he’s learning it. He said there are fewer pre-snap responsibilities, like assigning offensive linemen protection schemes and reading coverages to find the right target. The action after the snap is quicker because the passer has to progress through the routes once the play begins to find an opening.
“I’d say this offense is a better fit,” Trickett said. “I like Coach Holgorsen and his offense and what he does and how my skill set has translated to the offense. The progression, that’s the hardest thing. You’ve got to go through your reads and always be ready to throw at a moment’s notice. You never know when you’re going to have to throw. Down there, once you hit the fifth step, you’ve got to throw it.”
Trickett said Holgorsen made no guarantees about playing time upon transferring, which was a slightly different pitch than what he received elsewhere. He said coaches at other possible destinations tried gifting him the starting job. Trickett said he didn’t like that tactic or the way it made him feel about the coach.
“All Dana said was he’s not promising me anything and that I’m going to get my chances,” Trickett said. “That’s all I can ask for.”
If nothing else, that taught Trickett to trust the coach he’ll spend a lot of time with the next two seasons. That faith was important when Holgorsen did make a promise to Trickett about the quality of players he’ll be working with at WVU.
“When I came here for the spring game, I saw a little of it, but even then we didn’t have all the guys we have now,” Trickett said. “Coach said the team was going to be a lot different than it was in the spring, and he was right.”
Since Trickett’s transfer, the Mountaineers have welcomed back receiver Ivan McCartney, who left the team last year, and added junior college receivers Mario Alford and Ron Carswell, high school receivers Shelton Gibson and Jacky Marcellus and University of Houston transfer running back Charles Sims, who for the time being lives with Trickett and receiver Connor Arlia.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Trickett said. “When I got here, I knew of course we were losing those three guys (Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods), so I was worried about how much depth we’d have, especially on the outside.
“I could go on and on now naming them, but we’re pretty deep. I’m pretty excited about that.”
Consider that’s as an assessment from a quarterback who was used to the loaded recruiting classes at Florida State.
“This is where my dad comes out in me, but I’m not a big star guy,” Trickett said. “The guys we have could play down there and they’re not five-star guys coming out of high school - and those guys down there can play, too.”
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi…@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.