MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Robert Gillespie stood in the middle of his players at Mountaineer Field last week and gave his pupils their directions.
"Ball-carriers, over there. Bigs, stay here," the running backs coach said.
With that, Ryan Clarke went over there with Shawne Alston, Andrew Buie and the other walk-ons Gillespie has cobbled together to carry the ball during spring practice.
That's not a misprint. That wasn't a misstep by Clarke.
Gillespie has Clarke carrying the football for West Virginia University again after Gillespie authorized exactly zero carries for Clarke last season. Steadily and silently, Clarke has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise in spring practice.
"I was eager to play football again, but I honestly didn't know it was going to come out like this," he said. "I'm happy it did."
Who knows where it goes from here? The Mountaineers favor Shawne Alston as the big back in the offense and Andrew Buie will be featured before Clarke. Come next season, Dustin Garrison should be recovered from his ACL surgery.
Truth be told, Clarke, the 6-foot, 230-pound senior, is a blocking back in the offense and that player just isn't going to get many carries, or receptions, in Coach Dana Holgorsen's system.
Even if he did, Clarke would still be battling a years old enemy: Fumbles. The mere mention makes him roll his eyes, but if his bookkeeping is correct, Clarke hasn't fumbled in about a year.
If true - and you're inclined to believe it is because it seems it's news every time Clarke does put one on the turf - that's a major headline.
He fumbled four times as a sophomore in 2010 and lost three, including a game-changer near his goal line at LSU that set up a momentous touchdown and then a game-ender near Connecticut's goal line in overtime that gave the Huskies their game-winning field goal.
When the 2011 spring rolled around and Holgorsen, Gillespie and the new offensive staff got down to business, they did so without ever looking back at old films.
They never saw footage of Clarke's fumbles, but he gave them fresh material.
He'd drop it in practice and Holgorsen would say that if it happened again, Clarke might not be playing.
Some time later, Gillespie decided to get involved in a ball security drill and popped the ball out of Clarke's grasp.
And as best as Clarke can recall, he hasn't fumbled since, though that comes with an asterisk he maturely explains.