Geno Smith's story is well known by now as he enters his senior year with the West Virginia Mountaineers, but the same cannot be said for his backups.
While Smith has had his name floated in early discussions for Heisman contenders, WVU's insurance policies wait in the wings of obscurity for their chance to start.
Sophomore Paul Millard and freshman Ford Childress are the primary backups for Smith heading into 2012. The work they put in now is what will hopefully allow for a seamless transition from Smith once he graduates. Let's get to know the potential future starters a bit better.
Ford Childress: 6'4'', 210 pounds, runs a 4.8 40-yard dash
Paul Millard: 6'2'', 210 pounds, runs a 4.7 40-yard dash
Childress comes up with the advantage in height while Millard is a hair faster and has the edge in experience. Both signal-callers hail from Texas and made their names known with impressive careers at local high schools.
The top backup job is Millard's to lose as he'll be entering his sophomore season with Childress likely to redshirt as a freshman. Geno Smith waited in the wings while Jarrett Brown started and now Millard and Childress patiently await their shot to lead the Mountaineers offense.
Millard graduated high school six months early to join West Virginia for their spring semester. His accomplishments as a senior at Flower Mound High were astounding as Millard threw for over 4,400 yards to go along with 47 scores.
He surpassed 300 yards in all but one of his games and passed for more than 400 yards seven times. Millard capped off his high school career with more than 8,000 passing yards. He was rushed into WVU's offensive system as a freshman due to a lack of able bodies at the position.
“The whole last year for me was kind of a blur. Just the transition and everything that happened going on in my life was like a blur, and just now I really feel like I’ve got my feet back under me,” Millard concluded. “It’s a lot better feeling that’s for sure.” (Per MSNSportsNet.com)
He managed to put together 253 yards in the spring game so it certainly looks like the game is slowing down for him.
Childress, a prep athlete out of Houston, Texas, showed initiative by enrolling early. Rivals.com rated him the 14th best quarterback in the nation as a result of his career at Kinkaid High School.
"He's the prototypical pro-style quarterback," said Stephen Hill, Kinkaid's coach. "He can throw the ball from the pocket, and when the pocket breaks down he can get out of the pocket and make throws on the run." (per Jason McDaniel of Chron.com).
He compiled 3,171 yards and 41 touchdowns during his senior year in an offense similar to that of West Virginia's.
WVU's coach Dana Holgorsen said (via Greg Madila), “When he (Childress) throws it, it goes exactly where you want him to throw it. It goes there, and it looks good, and it is usually extremely accurate.”
Childress comes from NFL bloodlines, as his father Ray Childress played on the defensive line for the Oilers and Cowboys.
Millard was unimpressive in the small sample of work he was afforded late in games last season.
“It is quite a transition jumping into college real fast. It’s kind of crazy,” he admitted. “You’re in high school one day and then the next week you’re in college. It’s pretty wild.”
He completed only seven of his 15 passes, managing 124 yards with one score and two interceptions. Millard got one last chance to impress in the Orange Bowl, but ended up throwing another pick which led to a score.
“It’s football. You throw interceptions. That happens. It was unfortunate at the time but since the Orange Bowl I’ve grown and matured a lot and I’ve kind of taken things in,” Millard noted. “It’s been over a year now since I’ve been here and since my dad passed awayall of that—and all of that is kind of behind me now and it’s easier to move on.”
As a likely redshirt for the 2012 season, Childress was expected to have a pretty quiet freshman season. That expectation abruptly ended in April when he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Childress failed three separate sobriety tests after being pulled over at 12:22 in the morning with no headlights on. He reportedly admitted to officers that he had drank that night and was later released on a $250 bond.
Coach Holgorsen discussed the topic back in April at the time of the occurrence.
"I have been made aware of the situation and am gathering facts at this time," Holgorsen said in the statement. "I will take appropriate action when all the facts are in." (Per WVMetroNews.com)
The arrest is unlikely to do any permanent damage to Childress and his West Virginia career, but it certainly wasn't the foot he was looking to start off on.