West Virginia came into the season hoping that redshirt freshman Tomas Rimac could be a depth piece on the offensive line.
With two games remaining he is much more than that.
Rimac, a native of Brunswick, Ohio, saw action in only two games as a true freshman but has started the past three after James Gmiter went down with an injury. And he is set to close out the season as a starter for the program as 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,” head coach Neal Brown said. “He’s not just plateauing. He’s getting better.”
Rimac, who’s first name is pronounced toe-mas, arrived in Morgantown with potential. He was a two-way starter in high school but primarily lined up at offensive tackle. The athletic lineman also competed in both discus and shotput in track.
He arrived on campus at around 6-foot-6, 306-pounds and through his work with both the strength and conditioning staff as well as the nutritionists has been able to add strength to his frame while cutting down his total body fat.
“They just wanted me to get a little stronger,” he said.
Rimac didn’t expect to earn any starts this early into his career but first got the call against TCU and while he was nervous at first quickly settled into the role. After taking that first hit in a game, the nerves quickly fall by the wayside.
Footwork was a strength of Rimac due to his time not only as an offensive tackle but his experience with the discus and shotput. Those are two activities he enjoyed, but when it came time to pick between the two it was football in a run away.
That was made even easier by the fact that Rimac got the opportunity to play for West Virginia after offensive line coach Matt Moore extended him a scholarship. It was where he wanted to play all along and attended a summer camp as well as a game in high school.
But once the offer came through, it was practically a done deal.
“West Virginia was my number one pick. I loved everything about it: the atmosphere, the fans, everything,” he said.
While left guard has been a transition, it isn’t one that was all-too-challenging for Rimac given the coaching he’s received. And he’s excited to see where the next steps in his career take him after he’s off to such a fast start considering where he was a few years ago.
I had a talk with coach Moore and he said you’re going to be a good player and he had a plan for me. I just kept working hard even if I was second or third string,” Rimac said. “And I finally got the opportunity to play.”