MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Just when it appeared West Virginia's quarterback situation had settled down, suddenly it's in a bit of turmoil again.Sophomore-to-be Ford Childress, expected to be one of the prime contenders - if not the favorite - to start next season, has left school and will not return.A West Virginia official confirmed Childress' departure Saturday evening. Childress was not in school at the start of the spring semester and apparently returned to Morgantown from Christmas break on Friday, packed his things and went home to Texas Saturday.Officially, however, the school is remaining mum on the subject. A WVU spokesman Saturday night said simply that "We have no comment on the situation at this time.''
Unconfirmed reports are that Childress will enroll in a junior college for a year and then transfer to a school closer to his Houston home, perhaps Texas A&M. The offensive coordinator at Texas A&M is former WVU quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital.The Childress news comes on the heels of Clint Trickett's revelation that after he played much of the 2013 season with an injured shoulder he had, in fact, been playing with a torn labrum. Trickett, a Florida State transfer who will be a senior next season, is scheduled to have surgery this week, which means he likely will miss spring practice.And that means West Virginia will likely go into spring practice with only senior-to-be Paul Millard healthy and ingrained in the system. Junior college quarterback Skyler Howard is also enrolled in school but will likely spend the spring and summer simply learning the offense.
West Virginia could also add a freshman to the mix in the summer. Four-star recruit William Crest of Baltimore has committed to the Mountaineers but cannot sign an official letter of intent until early February.But even if Crest enrolls, it will leave WVU in the fall with only a healthy Millard, a recovering Trickett and two newcomers who will need time to adjust to the system. Only a few weeks ago it appeared as if WVU might have three healthy veterans and two newcomers.The 6-foot-5, 234-pound Childress emerged as West Virginia's starting quarterback in the third game of last season after Millard started the first two and while Trickett was still adapting to the system. But in his second start Childress suffered a torn pectoral muscle and did not play again.Trickett then assumed the starting role and, with the exception of one game he sat out injured, kept it the rest of the season.Because Childress has already used his redshirt season, he cannot sit out a year and retain three years of eligibility. Whether he goes the junior college route and plays next season or transfers and sits out a year, he would have two years remaining beginning in 2015.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.