MORGANTOWN -Patience is a virtue.
It's become a necessary ingredient for senior quarterback Paul Millard as he tries to regain the starting job for the Mountaineers as West Virginia University prepares for its season opener against perennial national championship contender Alabama.
"We'll just have to see what happens," said Millard. "You never know. You've just got to be ready to play whenever your number is called.
"It's not an easy task, but it's something that you've just got to do."
Things not being easy is something to which the Texas native has grown accustomed. Coming out of Flower Mound High School as the No. 1 nationally rated quarterback in passing and No. 2 in total offense by MaxPreps, Millard found himself riding the bench and only seeing mop-up time behind incumbent starter Geno Smith.
The 230-pounder did have his moments.
As a freshman he saw action in four games, connecting with Stedman Bailey on a career-long 45-yard pass against Bowling Green and finding Brad Starks for a 30-yard touchdown in a victory over Norfolk State.
As a sophomore Millard again served as the primary backup to Smith, seeing action in seven games. Listed among his highlights that season was a 3-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Myers in a victory over instate rival Marshall in the Friends of Coal Bowl, a 37-yard touchdown to Bailey in a loss at Oklahoma State and a career-high nine pass attempts in a win over JMU.
During the following off-season the junior-to-be won the starting job over highly-touted freshman Ford Childress and Florida State transfer Clint Trickett.
A solid performance that witnessed him throw for 237-yards in a victory over William & Mary earned him a second start against Big 12 rival Oklahoma.
Millard completed 21-of-41 attempts for 218 yards against the Sooners, but it would not be enough to keep the Mountaineers from suffering their first loss of the season and falling to 0-1 in conference play.
It was also a performance that would send him back to the sidelines as Childress earned the starting job against the University of Maryland. But, a shutout loss to the Terrapins sent Childress to the sidelines and elevated Trickett to the starting job.
But will that be enough?
With a 2014 schedule that opens in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and includes games at Maryland as well as nine Big 12 contests, erratic play at what is undoubtedly an offense's top position, can be the difference in success and failure.
"Obviously, there are more things that I need to work on,'' said Millard. "Everybody does. This summer we will be working hard to improve on the things that we need to improve on. Nobody wants a repeat of last year."
With the quarterback battle expected to be even tougher with the return of Trickett -who missed the summer while recovering from shoulder surgery- as well as junior college transfer Skylar Howard, former Fairmont State quarterback Logan Moore and incoming freshman William Crest all looking to win the starting nod against the Crimson Tide.
Just how much the improvement continues will be one of the major keys to a successful 2014.