West Virginia went into the season hoping that redshirt freshman Thomas Rimac would be a deep piece on the offensive line.
With two games left it is much more than that.
Rimac, a Brunswick, Ohio native, saw action in just two games as a true freshman, but started the last three games after James Gmatter was hit with an injury. It is scheduled to conclude the season as the start of the program as Gmiter is not expected to return.
“We felt he was going to be the eighth man, the ninth 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 Neil Brown. It’s getting better.”
Rimac, whose first name is pronounced two-mass, arrived in Morgantown with potential. He was a two-way starter in high school but lined up primarily at offensive tackle. The athlete also competed in both discus throw and track shooting.
He arrived on campus at around 6-foot-6, 306 pounds and through his work with both the strength and conditioning crew as well as nutritionists were able to add strength to his frame while reducing his overall body fat.
“They just wanted me to get a little bit stronger,” he said.
Rimac didn’t expect to earn a start early in his career but got the call first against TCU and while he was nervous at first he quickly settled into the role. After taking the first hit of the game, nerves quickly fall to the wayside.
Footwork was one of Rimac’s strengths due to not only his time at offensive tackle but his experience with the discus and shooting. Those two activities he enjoyed, but when it came time to choose between the two, football was a long way off.
This was made easier by the fact that Rimac got the opportunity to play with West Virginia after offensive line coach Matt Moore extended his scholarship to him. It was where he wanted to play all the time and attended summer camp as well as a high school game.
But once the offer was made, it was practically the final deal.
“West Virginia was my first choice. I loved everything about it: the atmosphere, the fans, everything.”
Although the left guard was a conversion, it wasn’t much of a challenge for Rimac given the training he had received. He is excited to see where the next steps in his career will take him after getting off to a fast start considering where he was a few years ago.
I spoke with Moore and he said you would be a good player and he had a plan for me. “I kept working hard even if I was on the second or third string,” Rimac said. “Finally got the chance to play.”