OL Rimac embraces opportunity at left guard

West Virginia entered the season hoping that freshman Tomas Rimac could be a piece of depth on the offensive line.

With two games left it’s much more than that.

Rimac, a native of Brunswick, Ohio, saw action in just two games as a true freshman, but started the last three after James Gmiter was injured. And he is set to close out the season as the program’s starter as Gmiter is not expected to return.

“We felt like he was going to 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 as well,” said head coach Neil Brown. “It’s not just a plateau. 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 primarily lined up at offensive tackle. The linebacker also competed in both the discus and shot put in track and field.

He arrived on campus at about 6-foot-6, 306 pounds, and through his work with both the strength and conditioning staff and nutritionists he was able to add strength to his frame while reducing his overall body fat.

“They just wanted me to get a little stronger,” he said.

Rimac didn’t expect to win any starts this early in his career, but he first got the call against TCU and while he was nervous at first, he quickly settled into the role. After taking that first hit in a game, nerves quickly fall to the wayside.

Footwork was Rimac’s strength due to his time not only as an offensive tackle but also his experience with the discus and shot put. These are two activities he enjoyed, but when it came time to choose between the two it was football that ran away.

That was made even easier by the fact that Rimac got a chance to play for West Virginia after offensive line coach Matt Moore extended him a scholarship. It was where he wanted to play all the time and attended a summer camp as well as a high school game.

But once the offer came, it was practically a done deal.

“West Virginia was my number one choice. I loved everything about it: the atmosphere, the fans, everything,” he said.

Although left guard was a transition, it wasn’t too difficult for Rimac given the coaching he received. And he’s excited to see where the next steps in his career take him after he’s gotten off to such a fast start, considering where he was a few years ago.

I talked to 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 a chance to play.”

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