Ford Childress (All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks)
With the departure of WVU’s all-time leading passer in Geno Smith to the NFL, head coach Dana Holgorsen will have three candidates competing for the job when fall camp opens. It won’t be an easy task replacing Smith, but WVU has plenty of young arms and will need at least one of them to step up. Here’s a rundown of what Holgorsen will be working with and some names Mountaineer fans should get to know.
Ford Childress- A redshirt freshman from Houston, Texas, Childress is considered to be head coach Dana Holgorsen’s first blue chip quarterback to land at WVU. After taking a redshirt season to get acclimated with the offense, Childress should have a solid shot at taking the first snap come Aug. 31 against William & Mary. At 6-5, 234 pounds, Childress certainly has the ideal size and arm strength that would seem to make him a perfect fit to open the season in WVU’s wide-open “Air Raid” offensive attack. His father was a 5 time NFL Pro Bowl selection for the Houston Oilers, a two-time All American selection at Texas A&M, and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Those are some lofty expectations for the ESPNU top 150 recruit to live up to, whether or not he can is still up in the air. However, one thing is for certain, Childress should have every opportunity to win the starting job out of camp and during the season as well. If he plays well, he’ll leave Holgorsen no choice but to let him lead the offense for years to come.
Paul Millard- A junior out of Flower Mound, Texas, Millard does have some on field experience, which gives him an edge over Childress. Word out of spring practice is that both Millard and Childress are neck and neck. Neither one separated themselves from the pack and I wouldn’t doubt if the competition plays out well into the season. Millard appeared in 7 games last season, mostly in mop-up duty of New York Jets second round pick Geno Smith. He had 9 completions on 19 attempts that went for a total of 87 yards and 2 touchdowns. From what I’ve seen, Millard has less arm strength than Childress and doesn’t seem to be as naturally gifted. However, Millard is an intelligent player with a good grasp of the offensive system. If he is the first quarterback to run out on the field come opening day it wouldn’t be a surprise at all. Last season on a 4th and 13, after Geno Smith went down with an injury, Millard came into the Oklahoma State game and threw a dart to Steadman Bailey for 37-yards and a touchdown. He has plenty of ability, but will he be able to put it all together and lead the Mountaineers to a bowl appearance? It remains to be seen.
Clint Trickett- A redshirt junior out of Tallahassee, Florida, Trickett is the wild card in the quarterback competition going into fall camp. I get the feeling he may excel in Dana Holgorsen’s wide open scheme, or he may not do well at all, depending upon how much of the field he sees. The reality still probably lies somewhere in the middle, but with superior talent arriving at Florida State and dwindling playing time, Trickett had to make the transfer if he wanted a shot. He’s not the most imposing presence to ever drop back to pass at 6-2, 180 pounds, but he shows decent arm strength and good football moxy. He may be just what the Mountaineers need. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he took the first snap against William & Mary. None the less he does add solid depth to a position which was rather short sided going into fall camp last season, and a team can never have too much depth playing in the Big 12 conference, the more the merrier.
Just a hunch of mine, but I would be shocked if all three quarterbacks don’t see the field at some point or another this coming season. The competition is wide open for the taking, but even if the Mountaineers come out of fall practice with a starter named and ready to go, they’ll all have chances to compete and settle things on the field; unless one just blows his counterparts out of the water, which doesn’t seem likely at this point. Who knows if three competing quarterbacks during the season are a recipe for success, it did work at times for Oklahoma State last season. However, WVU will have to start somewhere in the wake of Geno Smith’s departure, and extra competition will certainly make for some good theatre come Aug. 31 and beyond. Whether or not it’s a performance worthy of embrace from WVU supporters depends on the almighty factor–success.