West Virginia entered the season hoping that redshirt rookie Tomas Rimac could be a depth element on the offensive line.
With two games to go, he is much more than that.
Rimac, a native of Brunswick, Ohio, only saw action in two games as a true rookie but started the last three after James Gmiter suffered an injury. And he’s about to end the season as a program starter because Gmiter isn’t expected to return.
“We felt like he would be the eighth, ninth guy and now he’s starting. He’s done really well and I think the future is really bright for him and he’s getting better too,” said head coach Neal Brown. “He’s not just plateauing. He’s getting better.”
Rimac, whose first name is pronounced toe-mas, arrived in Morgantown with potential. He was a two-way starter in high school, but mostly lined up at offensive tackle. The athletic lineman also competed in the discus and the track shot put.
He arrived on campus at around 6-foot-6 and 306 pounds and through his work with strength and conditioning staff as well as nutritionists, he was able to strengthen his body while reducing his total body fat.
“They just wanted me to get a little stronger,” he said.
Rimac never expected to earn starts so early in his career, but he first got the call against TCU and, while nervous at first, quickly settled into the role. After taking that first hit in a match, nerves quickly fall by the wayside.
Footwork was a strength of Rimac due to his time not only as an offensive tackle, but also his experience with the discus and the shot put. Those were two activities he loved, but when it came time to choose between the two, it was football on the run.
It was made even easier by the fact that Rimac got the opportunity to play for West Virginia after offensive line coach Matt Moore gave him a scholarship. This is where he wanted to play all along and attended a summer camp as well as a high school game.
But once the offer came through, it was pretty much a done deal.
“West Virginia was my first choice. I liked everything: the atmosphere, the fans, everything,” he said.
Although left guard was a transition, it wasn’t too difficult for Rimac given the training he received. And he’s excited to see where the next steps in his career will take him after such a quick start considering where he was a few years ago.
I had a conversation with Coach Moore and he said you would be a good player and he had a plan for me. I just kept working hard even though I was second or third string,” Rimac said. “And I finally had the opportunity to play.”
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