Running back set to reboot
Running back Charles Sims had to take an involuntary break from playing football.
He was a spectator last season because the NCAA ruled him ineligible for the 2010 season.
Sims was able to return to practice at the start of training camp, Aug. 5., but he had his eyes on a comeback long before.
Sims, who is listed as a redshirt sophomore, weighed 187 pounds his freshman season. He has gained approximately 20 more pounds of muscle since then.
“He’s hungry,” running backs coach Clarence McKinney said. “He’s doing a great job. Having him in the mix gives us some versatility. That year off did him well.
“He’s put on some pounds, he got stronger and he’s faster. He used it wisely.”
Sims is a dual threat as a runner and receiver. In his freshman campaign he averaged 104.1 all-purpose yards per contest.
His final statistics were 698 rushing yards on 132 attempts and 759 receiving yards on 70 receptions. He scored a total of 10 touchdowns.
For his productivity, he was named the 2009 Conference USA Freshman of the Year. Sims is the final component of the Cougars’ three-pronged rushing attack.
He is not as big as senior running backs Bryce Beall and Michael Hayes, but he is the most likely to win a footrace between the three.
“He’s a multi-dimensional player, he has an extra dimension as a receiver,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “He’s a little faster. He’s going to compete, and we’re going to give him every chance to get out there.
“You can never have too many running backs. Ever.”
After losing senior wide receivers James Cleveland and Kierre Johnson in 2010, the return of Sims is an encouraging sight for an arsenal of weapons that is already dangerous.
If it’s catching passes out of the backfield or being motioned outside as a receiver, in all likelihood Sims will become one of senior quarterback Case Keenum’s favorite targets in the passing game.
He is just another weapon in an offensive arsenal that is already dangerous.
“He’s a heck of a football player,” Keenum said. “I’m really, really excited about him being out there this year, and what he’s going to be able to bring to the table.
“Whether he’s running the ball or catching it’s going to be special. He’s a guy to keep an eye on.”
Beall and Hayes are more outgoing when around their teammates, while Sims takes the more serious approach.
He is a man of few words.
“Bryce and Mike are room clowns, and Charles just sits back and watches them,” McKinney said. “They keep everybody laughing, but Charles is a quiet guy. He doesn’t say much, he just goes about doing his business.”
His presence has increased the intensity in practice. Sims is showing his coaches and teammates that he deserves to be back on the field.
“Charles brings the best out of you,” Beall said.
“He’s such a competitor. He’s going to come to practice hard every day, and he’s going to make you practice hard.”
Having a revolving door of running backs gives the Cougars a chance to rotate all three players. The coaching staff could potentially incorporate sets that include all three running backs.
“It’s possible,” McKinney said. “We’re going to wait and see what happens.
“Maybe we’ll put all three of those guys out there.”
Not Beall, Hayes or Sims is concerned about how many touches they get.
Their goal is to gain recognition in the backfield for an offense that is categorized as passing-oriented.
“We just want to be the best backfield in the country,” Hayes said. “The three of us. We’re working towards that everyday.”