Breakout Performer: QB Clint Trickett's Long Road to West Virginia Pays Off Big Time
West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett had several reasons to savor his team's upset 30-21 win over heavily favored #11 Oklahoma State last Saturday. A week after the Mountaineers were crushed 37-0 by Maryland, Trickett earned his first start and responded with 309 yards and a touchdown (with two interceptions), guiding the team to two late scoring drives after temporarily leaving the game with a shoulder injury. This all came on a day when coach Dana Holgorsen announced 21 changes to the team's depth chart.
The 22-year-old redshirt junior, Trickett, began the season as the Mountaineer's third-string QB, and plays in the shadows of two current AFC East starting QBs: the Jets' Geno Smith, who departed West Virginia for the NFL this past spring, and Bills' rookie EJ Manuel, whom Trickett backed up at Florida State last year.
Now Trickett is raring for the Mountaineers to slay another ranked opponent, #17-ranked Baylor Saturday night. Mustard caught up with Trickett to find find out about his next hunting trip, what it's like rooming with fellow QB Ford Childress, and how he transitioned from FSU back to West Virginia.
SI: Coming off a lopsided defeat to Maryland, what was the team's mindset entering a contest against #11 ranked Oklahoma State?
Trickett: We really didn't have anything to lose. We had just gotten embarrassed the week before, so we were going to go out there and have some fun. And that's what we did. It's always good to have butterflies in the stomach -- that means you're ready to play and excited, but I didn't get too bad.
What was the play call on the 17-yard touchdown pass to Kevin White?
It was a check at the line of scrimmage and I gave him a vertical route. He got an inside release, which I wasn't expecting [laughs], but I had to adjust to it there at the end, and he made a great catch. Kevin's a heck of a player.
Trickett's touchdown pass to White at 0:56:
FACT Trickett spent two seasons as E.J. Manuel's backup at Florida State, playing on a team where his dad, Rick, serves as assistant head coach and offensive line coach. Realizing the starting Seminole job wasn't going to be his after Manuel left, Trickett, having earned his undergrad degree in three redshirt seasons, took advantage of his eligibility to transfer and headed to West Virginia.
Trickett competed for the starting job out in the offseason, but head Holgorsen opted to start the season with junior Paul Millard under center, then switched to redshirt freshman Ford Childress – Trickett's roommate. Then, owing to Childress's torn pectoral muscle, Trickett got the call last Thursday morning. "I kind of knew [Ford] wasn't good to go, so I had it in the back of my mind: 'This will probably be your week, so get ready.'"
Did coaches reel in the playbook at all after you returned from getting your shoulder drilled?
After being evaluated, I came back [after missing one play], said I was good to go, and we still did everything -- rollouts, screens. I was still moving, still throwing deep.
When was the last time you threw 50 passes in a game?
I really don't even think I have. I don't know if I've thrown 50 passes in a practice before.
What was the memorable play of the game for you?
Honestly, I liked taking the knee at the end. That play is my favorite play. I love that one.
How's it living with Childress, who's your teammate but also, technically, your competition?
We try to talk very little about football when we're at home. We try to just go home and bro out, sit there and watch TV. Me, him, and Pat Eger, our center, have watched every episode of Blue Mountain State like three times. We watch Entourage. We just pick a TV show on Netflix, watch it, and call that our bro-out session. But they've been getting on me for missing some bro-out sessions lately, but I'm going to try to get back in the groove of it.
FACT During the post-game press conference, Trickett's phone started ringing atop the podium, near the microphone. He shut the ringer off, but the phone kept on ringing, somewhat awkwardly. Trickett kept cool and answered a question.
"That was actually my best friend," Trickett said of the caller. "I already had about seven missed calls from him. I thought he would take the hint – 'Hey, I'm a little busy.' I don't know what kind of state he was in to not realize that [laughs] but I called him right after and said, 'Hey, thanks for interrupting.' It was pretty funny."
FACT After the awkwardness of leaving the program where his dad still coaches, Trickett says all the family love was a true highlight of the day.
"My mom and one of my brothers were here," he said. "After the game, [the team] sings 'Country Roads' in front of the student section and luckily she sits right by it, so I got to point up at her."
And here's songwriter John Denver's performance in 1995:
When did you get to talk to your dad after the game?
[Florida State] played at 3:30, so they didn't get done until around seven. My dad was all excited. During their game, Florida State against Boston College, they kept showing our score. And every time, the Florida State sideline would start jumping up and down. They all have my back and I'm happy. Honestly, half the team texted me. My dad was proud of me and all I've been through -- not necessarily starting right off the bat, but sticking with it and not giving up, and also the game in general, playing through the pain and everything. That's everything he wanted.
FACT Trickett mother's Tara faces a geographic challenge every weekend because husband Rick is with FSU, her eldest son (and Clint's brother) Travis is now the co-offensive coordinator at Alabama-based Samford University, and Clint is in West Virginia. When Florida State played its home opener against Nevada on September 14, Tara was in Morgantown to support Clint.
"This was a hard one,” Tara told Tallahasse.com. “It’s killing me because I love Florida State, but somebody has to be there for Clint.”
Where was your mind at when you determined that you were going to transfer to West Virginia?
You want to doubt yourself. You're like, "Man, if I didn't get it done there and I can't get it done here, am I even that good?" But you can't think about that. You just have to keep going. That's honestly what I did.
FACT As a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan, he's the proud owner of a Australian Shepherd named Crosby.
"You can ask anyone around, he's the best dog in the world. I know everyone says that but I've got multiple witnesses on that one."
Here's Crosby watching a Penguins playoff game::
Did you want to go to WVU in the first place, considering you grew up in West Virginia when your dad coached there?
Yeah, I wanted to come here out of high school, but I didn't really get an offer. Then they hired Coach Holgorsen and I was like, "Why couldn't you have been there when I was coming out? That's like a perfect fit." Geno Smith graduated, and I was eligible to transfer and I was like, "Well, if there was ever a time for me to live out my childhood dream, it's now." So I did it, made the move, and I'm glad I did. I was glad I did two weeks ago, but I'm definitely glad I did now.
FACT A guy can dream. Trickett posted this mock up of NCAA Football 14:
Do you get to stroll around Van Wilder-style since already have your undergrad degree?
I'm in graduate school classes now for sports-media relations. I'm taking the same classes as [star running back and study buddy] Charlie Sims. We have a paper due later-on tonight that we're going to help each other with.
So what's the paper about?
Um…what is the topic…That's bad that I don't know. You put me on the spot. Let me get back to you in a couple hours.
FACT Trickett's Twitter bio reads, "A duck hunter who happens to play Quarterback for WVU." He's planning a post-season trip to Arkansas to bag some fowl, and meanwhile, he'll be hunting for deer alongside Childress and a few other teammates. Here he is in a January with a pair of wood ducks, which later became lunch.
In consecutive tweets you wrote, "Why can't my life be like a Kenny Chesney song?" and "Turns out me and Kendrick Lamar have similar dreams." Pretty diverse taste?