Both Charles Sims and Will Clarke had a plan for their senior season when WVU took the field a year ago. It was quite simple, actually: play well, get exposure, go to the NFL. That plan came to fruition this past week as the NFL preseason kicked off.
Both Sims and Clarke saw action with their respective teams in the preseason opener and both did their part to stand out.
When the Tampa By Buccaneers took the field against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sims was used in a variety of ways but that was to be expected. The 6-foot, 215-pound running back rushed for 13 yards on six carries but caught three passes for 32 yards, including a 27-yard gain which can be seen here.
Scott Smith, the Buccaneers website writer, Tweeted during the team’s game that Sims looked good but that the team was being plagued by penalties, a nine-yard and a 13-yard Sims run negated by flags. Rick Stroud, a writer for the Tampa Bay Times, said, ” Special teams will secure (Bobby) Rainey’s spot on the roster, but don’t be surprised if rookie Charles Sims emerges as the No. 2 tailback to Doug Martin.”
North of Tampa Bay, Will Clarke was doing his part to impress Cincinnati Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis.
Clarke finished the game with two tackles but it certainly caught the eye of Lewis. When the coach was asked in the post-game press conference if any young defensive players stood out, Lewis mentioned the West Virginia defensive end.
“Will Clarke handled himself very, very well,” Lewis said. “Will has continued to impress.”
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that these two have found themselves in the good graces of their new teams.
While at WVU, Clarke was always noted as one of the hardest workers on the team. If you’d had asked most people where Clarke’s career was headed following his junior season, most may have pointed to the Canadian Football League. But as his senior year took flight, so, too, did his chances at the NFL. And then he was selected by the Bengals earlier than most had predicted.
For Sims, the move from Houston to West Virginia was made specifically to better get his name out there for NFL scouts. As the Mountaineers made the move from the then-Big East to the Big 12, Sims knew that playing for, and having success for, the Mountaineers would help his draft stock. And he was right, being a prized draft selection of the Buccaneers.
As the preseason turns into the regular season in a few short weeks, don’t be surprised if you hear the names “Charles Sims” and “Will Clarke” across the sports wire more often.