Thursday, May 31, 2012

93 Scooter Berry

Hometown: North Babylon, NY
Career: 2007-2010
Record: 38-14, Bowl Record: 2-2 Including a BCS win
Scooter Berry was a starter along the defensive line starting with his redshirt-freshman season (2007). Berry held his starting spot through the beginning of the 2009 season. During the East Carolina game in 2009, Berry injured his shoulder, ending his redshirt-junior campaign. Berry would return to be a contributor to the 2010 WVU defense that ranked third in total defense. While Berry’s career had its ups and downs, he totaled 111 tackles and 7 sacks.
Memorable Game: Probably the one game that best exemplifies Berry’s play was the 2007 game against Louisville. After suffering a loss early in the season to South Florida, West Virginia had battled back up the rankings to #6 heading into the game against Louisville. The game against the Cardinals would prove to be an exciting back and forth contest between two of the better offenses in the country. While the game would feature a lot of notable offensive plays, key defensive stops and turnovers by the Mountaineer defense proved to be the difference. Berry recorded 6 tackles and a tackles for loss in WVU’s 38-31 win.
Competition: There is a strong case that can be made for Dale Jackson and John Browning. Ultimately, Berry won the nod at #93 for his superior stats and for being part of arguably the best defense in school history (2010).
Teaser: The next pick in our countdown to the Friends of Coal Bowl is (surprise, surprise) another defensive lineman! This player had a certain attitude that frustrated opposing offensive lines, especially during his stellar senior campaign. Interestingly enough, he was such a big time player at WVU, he has a whole peninsula in Ireland named after him (just kidding). To guess the identity of this stud, you may need the Luck of the Irish.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

94 Josh Taylor

Hometown: Miramar, FL
Career: 2008-2011
Record: 37-15, Bowl Record: 2-2 including a BCS win
Not quite who you (the reader) would expect at this spot in the countdown? Well, unfortunately not every number in WVU football history has a deep pool to select from. That is the case with #94. Regardless, the countdown must go on.
Today’s selection is Josh Taylor. Never a consistent starter for the Mountaineers, Taylor was a depth player along the defensive front for WVU. Taylor’s best campaign was his sophomore season (2009), when Taylor frequently rotated in at DT and NT for the Mountaineers in running situations. Taylor’s contributions helped make Coach Casteel’s defenses routinely one of the bet units in college football, especially the spectacular 2010 unit.
Memorable Game: While Taylor might not have had a very memorable career at WVU, he did have some good performances. His most memorable effort came in a road game against Syracuse in 2009. Taylor may have only registered 2 tackles in the win, but he did come up with the lone turnover for the defense, intercepting a pass. The 34-13 win over the Orange moved WVU’s record to 4-1 on the season.
Competition: Realistically, the selection for #94 should have been Chris Parker, however, I could not find any image of Chris Parker online. Parker was a stout defensive tackle for Don Nehlen during the late 80’s. After my exhaustive search of the internet could not yield an image of Parker, I settled in on Josh Taylor as my selection. Some other notables at #94 are Keith Morris and Gary Tillis.
Teaser: I promise that tomorrow’s selection will be a home-run. This player had some ups and downs through-out his career at WVU, but in the end, the fruits of his labor helped motor WVU to national championship contenders. Just like Scooter (of Muppets fame) said of Mr. Bass Man, this player just had that certain something.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

95 David Upchurch

Hometown: Hyattsville, MD
Career: 1999-2002
Record: 23-24, Bowl Record: 1-1
David Upchurch played during a relatively down period in West Virginia University football history. Upchurch came to WVU to play for Coach Don Nehlen, but after the 2000 season, Upchurch was faced with learning a new defensive scheme under new Head Coach Rich Rodriguez and newly hired Defensive Line Coach Jeff Casteel. Upchurch would go on to start at nose tackle for Coach Casteel’s defense. Under the tutelage of Coach Casteel, Upchurch thrived, amassing more than 160 tackles and 10 sacks over his four-year stay in Morgantown.
Memorable Game: David Upchurch had a solid contribution to one of West Virginia’s most dominating defensive performances. The 2002 season was Coach Rich Rodriguez’s second in Morgantown. By the time the Mountaineers faced Rutgers in Piscataway, the Mountaineers had already matched their win total from the year prior (3). West Virginia came into the game seeking win #4 on the season and they would get it in a big way. WVU’s defense smothered the Scarlet Knights, holding Rutgers to a total of 90 yards offense. Upchurch and the defensive line kept the Rutgers running game in check, holding them to 20 yards on the ground. Upchurch would chip in with 2 tackles for loss and 2 pass break-ups.
Competition: Upchurch was arguably the most notable of players to wear #95. Other players of note to wear #95 for the Mountaineers include Pat Marlatt, Delbert Fowler, and Ernie Anderson.
Teaser: My pick for #94 might be a bit of a surprise to some of my readers. The problem with this kind of countdown is finding pictures for each athlete you select. When it comes to my next selection, the process was not exactly tailor-made, but I stand by my selection like Drillbit Taylor stood next to the kids that hired him. Hopefully I can hire Mr. Taylor to protect me from the bullies after tomorrow’s selection.

Monday, May 28, 2012

96 John Thornton

Special Note: Today is Memorial Day. We should all remember those who have sacrificed for our country so that simple things like this blog can exist. In the spirit of the holiday, take a look at the WVU band's tribute to our Armed Forces.
Now, on with the Countdown!
Hometown: Scottdale, PA
Career: 1995-1998
Record: 28-19, Bowl Record: 0-3
Thornton is one of the greatest defensive linemen in WVU history.  As a three year starter at defensive tackle, Thornton registered 162 tackles and 15 sacks. Thornton’s stellar play earned him All-Big East selections in 1997 and 1998 as well as All-American honors in 1998. Following his outstanding senior campaign, Thornton was drafted in the second round of the 1999 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. He would go on to play 10 seasons in the NFL for the Titans and Bengals, winning an AFC championship in his rookie campaign.
Memorable Game: Following a disappointing loss in the 1998 season opener to #1 Ohio State, the Mountaineers were looking for a bounce back game at home against Maryland. The Mountaineers offense seemingly scored at will, while Thornton and the defense held Maryland’s offense to only 262 yards of offense. Thornton registered 7 tackles (3 tackles for loss) in #19 WVU’s 42-20 victory over the Terps.
Competition: There was not a ton of competition for 96 outside of Keilen Dykes. Dykes had an impressive career at WVU, but Thornton’s All-Conference and All-America nods proved to be too much for Dykes to compete with.
Teaser: Tomorrow’s selection at #95 is a player that pairs up church and football (so to speak). No, I am not talking about pairing up church and football the way Tim Tebow does, but more like the way Matthew Lawrence does in the Disney Channel classic film: Angels in the Endzone.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

97 Julian Miller

Hometown: Sherrodsville, OH
Career: 2008-2011
Record: 37-15, Bowl Record: 2-2 including a BCS win
JMillz (as he calls himself in the twitterverse) was a 3 year starter along the West Virginia defensive front for Coach Jeff Casteel. Miller played primarily at defensive end during his sophomore and junior seasons before switching to defensive tackle for his senior season. Sometimes over-shadowed by some of the other WVU defensive greats he played with (Nield, Williams, Thomas, etc), Miller made his presence known to opposing quarterbacks. Miller registered 29.5 career sacks, good enough to earn him the 4th spot on WVU’s all-time sack leader list.
Memorable Game: Probably Miller’s most complete performance came in last year’s Backyard Brawl. Miller, along with the rest of the West Virginia defensive front gave the Panthers fits as the defense registered 10 sacks and held Pitt’s offense to 296 yards of offense. Miller registered 10 tackles and 4 sacks in WVU’s 21-20 victory. The win kept WVU’s slim Big East Championship hopes alive as the team would band together the following week to put away USF, earning a trip to the BCS. We all know how this story ended…
Competition: This selection was pretty cut and dry. Julian Miller was clearly the best ever at #97, but I will give honorable mention to Steve Perkins, Lonnie Brockman, and John Bendana. I also have to give a nod to one of the few Mountaineer players I have personally been friends with: Andrae Wright.
Teaser: Tomorrow’s selection was an All-American at WVU. Following a stellar career at WVU, this player went on to be part of the Tennessee Titans squad that participated in Super Bowl XXXIV. For those with a bad memory, this is the game that ended with Kevin Dyson being stopped at the 1-yard line by who?... Mike Jones

Saturday, May 26, 2012

98 Will Clarke

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Career: 2010- Present
Record: 19-7, Bowl Record: 1-1 including a BCS win
Son of a former Duquesne basketball player, Will Clarke makes the cut at #98. As a redshirt freshman, Clarke saw limited action in 4 games before really making his presence felt this past season. Clarke stepped in at defensive end on running situations to give Bruce Irvin a break. Clarke’s ability to shed blocks and make plays in the backfield led to increasing playing time as the season progressed. By the end of last season, Clarke was starting at DE (opposite of Bruce Irvin), moving Julian Miller inside to DT. Expectations for this upcoming season could not be any higher as Clarke is expected to be a stud in Coach Joe DeForest’s 3-4 defensive scheme.
Memorable Game: Clarke showed glimpses of his future greatness at the end of the 2011 campaign. In the biggest game of the season, Clarke shined. Needing a win against South Florida to win a share of the Big East Championship and preserve West Virginia’s hopes for a BCS bid, Clarke came through in a big way for WVU. Clarke registered a career high 8 tackles against the Bulls, helping WVU come from behind to win the game 30-27. The win earned WVU a bid in the 2012 Orange Bowl against Clemson.

Competition: The biggest competition here is David Grant. Grant had a great career at WVU and quite frankly, his stats are better than Clarke’s across the board. So why Will Clarke? The answer is two-fold: 1) Clarke has a lot of potential going into his final two years of eligibility and 2) I couldn’t find a good picture of David Grant. While I will not claim all the pictures in the countdown to be great (see number 99), I have made a concerted effort to find high quality images to match well-deserving Mountaineers.

Other players of note at number 98: Pat Liebig, Kevin Landolt, and Jim Gray.

Teaser: Coming up at #97 is a player who starred at both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Mountaineers. His defensive prowess would land him a spot at number 4 on the West Virginia all-time sack leader list. But as a wise man once said, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

99 Barry Hawkins

Hometown: Marietta, OH

Career: 1991-1994

Record: 29-16-2, Bowl Record: 0-2

A big run-stuffer, Hawkins anchored a defensive line that won 29 games over his  four year career, including that prolific 1993 team that won 11 games. Hawkins racked up 208 tackles and 16 sacks in his WVU career. Hawkins was a second team All-Big East selection in 1993 and first team All-Big East in 1994 for Coach Don Nehlen’s squad.

Memorable Game: Hawkins best total performance came in the 1992 edition of the Battle for the Black Diamond Trophy. That day Hawkins recorded a career high 7 solo tackles and 10 total tackles. Barry’s performance help the Mountaineers hold the Hokie rushing game to 86 yards en-route to a 16-7 WVU road win. The win moved West Virginia's record to 3-0-1 on the season.

Competition: Ernest Hunter, Calvin Turner, and Jeff Lucas were some of the other notables to also wear #99 at WVU. At the end of the day, I chose Barry Hawkins due to his impressive stats and All-Conference nods.

Teaser: Next up in our countdown is the first of 7 current players to appear in our march to the season opener, Friends of Coal Bowl. Only 99 days until kick-off! Are you serious Clark?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

100 Chuck Kinder


Hometown: St. Albans, WV
Career: 1963-1966
Record: 20-19-2, Bowl Record: 0-1
What better way to start off the 100 day countdown to WVU’s inaugural Big 12 season, than with the only player in college football history to don the #100? As a freshman kicker for the 1963 Mountaineer squad, Kinder decided to honor the state of West Virginia’s centennial by wearing #100. Kinder wore #100 until his senior season, when Coach Carlen asked him to revert to the more conventional #10. The NCAA has since ruled that players be limited to two digit jersey numbers, making Chuck Kinder a truly unique player in college football history.
Memorable Game: Kinder set his career high for points in a game by racking up 10 points against the Tribe of William & Mary on September 25, 1965. Kinder’s spot-on kicking helped propel the Mountaineers to a 34-14 victory in Williamsburg, VA (coincidentally my current Hometown). The victory moved WVU’s record to 2-0 on the season, both wins over Southern Conference opponents. WVU would go on to a 4-0 mark against Southern Conference opponents in 1965, earning the Mountaineers their seventh Southern Conference championship.
Competition (for this spot in the countdown): None. No one before or since has worn such a unique number for any team in college football.
Teaser: The point of this portion of each day’s entry will be to provide some minor (sometimes rather insignificant) clue as to the identity of the next day’s selection. Each clue will be accompanied by a (un)related youtube video referencing (sometimes obscure) movie and song clips. If you can’t decipher the clue, not to worry, the answer is only a day away. As with any aspect of the blog, feel free to ridicule the teasers in the comments.
 Tomorrow is the start of the 90’s. As you might expect, the 90’s portion of the countdown will be dedicated to the defensive side of the ball. My selection at #99 is a defensive stand-out from the early 90’s. Can you guess who it is? To help you brainstorm, you might take a listen to early 90’s sensation Sophie B. Hawkins.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Starting May 24, this blog will begin the 100 day countdown to WVU's inaugural Big XII season. Each day will feature a notable Mountaineer player by jersey number. For example: 92 days to kickoff, we will feature a notable player that wore 92. Player selections will be made based on a combination of factors such as statistics and noteriety. Sometimes, the selection is simply based on potential (for current players) or, in rare instances, the selection may be made purely on personal bias or picture availability. If you don't agree with the selection, feel free to state your case in the comments section for that day.

If you are a die hard WVU fan, you will enjoy this countdown to the September 1 Friends of Coal Bowl. If you are not a WVU fan, this blog will drive you nuts. Either way, I invite any all readers. You keep reading, I'll keep posting.