NCAA Football

Five West Virginia Mountaineers to Watch for the 2013 College Football Season

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Five West Virginia Mountaineers to Watch for the 2013 College Football Season

West Virginia Mountaineers
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the dry season for college football, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the next season. If you’re like me, you can’t wait for the new season as soon as the old one is over.

So while college football news is scattered with coaching changes, recruiting trails and stories about linebackers getting tricked into dating men, I’d like to take a minute to discuss the future of one team in particular, the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The Mountaineers finished 2012 ranked eighth in the Big 12 with a record of 7-6 (4-5). The 2012 Mountaineers were led by the trio of future NFL players on offense in Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

Teams quickly discovered however, that aside from those three, the Mountaineers were relatively weak across the board. The team had a young, inexperienced defense and a special teams unit that looked consistently overmatched.

Now, the three players that kept WVU at least somewhat competitive are leaving. So where does the team go from here?

The answer to that question can be found with five returning players and possibly a recruit here or there.

The Mountaineers will likely have another rough season before its talent can develop into something great, and that time will come, but for now, here are the five WVU players to keep an eye on in the 2013 season.

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Paul Millard (Quarterback)

West Virginia Mountaineers
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Millard will enter 2013 in a heated quarterback battle with redshirt freshman Ford Childress. Millard will need to be at the top of his game, especially early in the season if he hopes to earn and keep the starting quarterback job.

The junior quarterback has only thrown for 211 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in his career at WVU. He was Geno Smith’s backup both seasons.

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Andrew Buie (Running Back)

West Virginia Mountaineers
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Buie returns to the Mountaineers as a junior. With Shawne Alston graduated, it’s up to Buie rushing attack. Buie had 179 attempts in 2012 and ran for 851 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Buie will likely get more carries in 2013, as WVU lost a number of receivers and will turn the ball over to an inexperienced quarterback.

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Karl Joseph (Defensive Back)

West Virginia Mountaineers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If there was one player on the WVU defense that could inspire hope in Mountaineer fans it is Karl Joseph. Joseph is returning as a sophomore, and was all over the field for the Mountaineers in 2012. He stepped up and became a leader on the field.

Joseph recorded 95 tackles, two interceptions and a sack in 2012.

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Isaiah Bruce (Linebacker)

West Virginia Mountaineers
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Bruce was just about the only other player on the WVU defense that knew how to play defense in 2012. Bruce was another player who will be returning as a sophomore and can continue to make WVU fans proud.

Bruce recorded 85 tackles and had an interception in 2012.

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Ford Childress (Quarterback)

West Virginia Mountaineers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Childress will be a very interesting story to watch. He is an open candidate for the starting quarterback job. Paul Millard is the older player, but Childress is a promising young quarterback.

If Millard doesn’t show he has what it takes to lead the team, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if head coach Dana Holgorsen gives the team to Childress.