MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- To hear Coach Dana Holgorsen tell the story, one part of the predicament helped solve West Virginia's playing time problem at running back.
The West Virginia coach said at his press conference Tuesday junior Andrew Buie, the team's leading rusher last season who was fifth string on a depth chart released Sunday night, will redshirt for the 2013 season.
"He's just going to develop mentally and physically and we're going to leave it at that," Holgorsen said. "He's not going to play this year. He's going to redshirt and I fully expect him to be ready to roll in the spring."
It's a sudden development. Just a day earlier, Holgorsen explained Buie's absence from the depth chart as the byproduct of the arrivals of University of Houston transfer Charles Sims, freshman Wendell Smallwood and junior college transfer Dreamius Smith. He trumpeted the value of depth and predicted it would come in handy.
Then again, Holgorsen was asked Monday if there was something more to it than that, to which he replied, "No, not yet."
Buie, who ran for 851 yards and seven touchdowns last season, with 207 of those yards coming in a win at Texas, has a redshirt season to use. He could take that as a transfer and that could happen this season.
NCAA rules force a Division I player transferring to a Division I school to sit out a year. Buie could play for another Division I school one as soon as the 2014 season. He'd have to move quickly, though, and complete the fall semester at his new school and then the spring semester. If he managed that, the 2013 season would count as the one he sat out as a transfer.
Sims is the only senior in the backfield and his spot will be filled by Pitt transfer Rushel Shell. If Buie stays at running back, he'll still be battling four running backs for a starting spot next season, including three that played in 2013.
"He had some decisions (to make)," Holgorsen said. "Some of these are decisions that he makes as well. Did we force him to? No."
* * *
HOLGORSEN DESIGNATED a number of first-year players for redshirts to start the season: freshmen offensive linemen Marcell Lazard, Grant Lingafelter and Tyler Tezeno, junior college offensive lineman Stone Underwood, junior college linebacker d'Vante Henry, freshmen safeties Malik Greaves and Isaac McDonald, freshman fullback/tight end Elijah Wellman and freshman receivers Jacky Marcellus and Shelton Gibson.
"I didn't want to play 12 or 15 freshmen last year," Holgorsen said. "I think our depth is better than what it was last year, so that's going to enable us to redshirt some guys."
First-year players who are on track to play this season include junior quarterback Clint Trickett, Smallwood, Smith, freshman receiver Daikiel Shorts, junior college receivers Kevin White and Mario Alford, junior college transfer defensive end Dontrill Hyman, junior college transfer linebacker Brandon Golson, freshman linebackers Hodari Christian and Marvin Gross, freshman cornerback Daryl Worley, freshman safety Jeremy Tyler and junior college transfer punter Nick O'Toole.