MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Here's a comparison that perhaps no one ever thought to make when Charles Sims arrived at West Virginia this summer.
He's a lot like Noel Devine.
That has little to do with the two as players, of course. In that sense they are linked only in that both are referred to as running backs.
Sims looks like one. He's 6 feet tall and a solid 213 pounds. Devine, at 5-foot-7, looked up at almost everyone.
Devine was a pure running back, preferring an I-formation look. Perhaps in this offense it would have been different, moving him into the slot or putting him in constant motion, like Tavon Austin. In this offense, Sims will lean more toward that role.
They also come from different parts of the country, Sims from Houston and Devine from Florida. Their backgrounds are different, as are their life experiences.
So how are they alike? Well, it's in what they say, which is almost nothing. Only by the time Devine was in his fourth year of college did he generally answer questions with more than a word or two, but not much more.
Sims is in his fifth year and treats every question as if it were a bomb ready to explode, touching it only momentarily.
"Oh, man, I'm just a laid-back, quiet-type guy,'' Sims said this week during his first meeting with the media.
He didn't expound further. It seems it's just not in his nature.
Which is fine, of course. With the possible exception of the media, no one really cares how productive Sims is during interviews. He didn't come to West Virginia to talk.
But even extrapolating the reason he did come to West Virginia is like pulling teeth - except, as someone pointed out, teeth pulling might be accompanied by screaming. And Sims doesn't seem to ever talk in much more than a whisper.
"It was a family decision,'' Sims said when asked about his winter of waffling between staying at Houston for his final season of eligibility (he said that in January), entering the NFL draft (first broached in January, then again in May), and finally transferring elsewhere (which he did in June).
Again, no further explanation.
Of course, the truth is that West Virginia is thrilled to have Sims, who in his three seasons at Houston established himself as one of the country's most versatile, if somewhat obscure, running backs. He could have entered his name in the NFL draft, but didn't. He could have stayed at Houston and played his final season, but didn't.
As for why he eventually chose the path he did remains a bit unclear - "I just thought I needed another year to improve myself,'' he said - but the general consensus is that he did what he did because proving yourself in Conference USA isn't quite the same as proving yourself in the Big 12.
"It is a step up,'' he admitted.
Does that mean his goal is to prove himself on another level?
"Yeah,'' he said. "You could say that.''
But he doesn't.
That is, however, the theme that he does repeat - proving himself. He doesn't talk about it much, but he does mention it frequently. As to what it is he feels he has to prove, Sims just smiles a bit and hesitates a lot.
"Let's see how I can answer that,'' he said, almost to himself
One of the few things Sims will discuss in more than one sentence is how he ended up at West Virginia, but then that's pretty much already known. When he was recruited to Houston originally in 2009, Dana Holgorsen was the Cougars' offensive coordinator. Holgorsen had actually begun recruiting Sims to Texas Tech before moving to Houston. Sims said he didn't necessarily wind up at Houston because of Holgorsen on a personal level as a recruiter, but because he liked the offense.
And that's why, when he decided to play his final season elsewhere, the offense again played a part in his decision.
"That played a big part. I was familiar with the offense,'' he said. "I've basically been running the offense since my freshman year. It's just different terminology you have to learn.''
Now that he's here, Sims answers questions about his goals just as all college players are taught to answer them.
"I just want to make plays,'' Sims said. "I just want to be put in position to make plays and help the team out.''
And the proving something part?
"I just have to prove things to myself,'' he said. "There are just some things I can improve on.''
What those are he will apparently keep to himself.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.