MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– Marcus Simms is having a breakout season for No. 9 West Virginia.
Through four games the 6-foot, 194-pound wide out leads the Mountaineers with 433 receiving yards.
Simms has caught two touchdowns and is averaging 108.25 yards per contest, which ranks ninth in the country.
“I think he’s playing at a very high level,” WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “He’s putting up great numbers, but from where he was at last year to where he’s at this year, he’s turning into an every-down guy for us. We put a lot on his shoulders not just from an offensive perspective but on special teams, as well. When you have that threat, he was making some big time catches on critical downs in the game.”
It’s not that what the junior wide receiver is doing is surprising because he has always been talented but Simms has really emerged as a threat this season.
“I just think maturity more than anything,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He was young and pretty immature, and now he’s older. Pretty much every young guy that sits in these seats out here is immature. When you’re 18 and just coming in from high school, you think you have all the answer, and you don’t.”
Like most athletes, the Bowie, Maryland native needed time to grow up.
“He’s always been a talented guy, but his practice habits changed, and he’s practicing well,” Holgorsen said. “Will (Grier) has a lot of confidence in him and that’s going to make us harder to defend when you have David Sills (V) on one side and Marcus Simms on the other side. It’s going to make it harder to defend us. But you can tell that Will is gaining confidence in him as well, and it’s starting to go in that direction as much as he does the other direction.”
In the past, Simms has shown flashes of brilliance but the speedy receiver never put it all together.
But this year he has become Mr. Consistency.
“From last year to this year, it’s night and day,” Sills said. “He’s attacked practice and attacked the game each week, and he’s working harder on being more focused. He’s locked in in practice and during lifts throughout the week. It’s really been paying off for him on the field.”
Conditioning has been vital to Simms’ success this year. He’s in the best shape of his career and seeing more action on the field.
“The more conditioned he is, the more opportunities he has,” Spavital said. “It’s funny; on his touchdown he had (against Texas Tech), right before the play he caught a slant, and I’m talking to him the whole time. I’m looking at him and asking, ‘Are you alright? Are you okay?’ It was because I wanted to take a shot to him. He looked at me and said he was fine. Then, he went and ran fast.
“Last year, after that, he wouldn’t have been able to give the effort that he would have liked to on that, because he would be gassed. I just thought it was funny that he was able to go back-to-back plays consistently for us. That was probably the biggest difference for us.”
If the Sherwood High School graduate continues to excel at the level he is now, the Mountaineers’ offense will be in good hands the remainder of the season.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS