Saturday, June 30, 2012

63 Ray Marshall

Hometown: Clairton, PA
Career: 1974-1975
Record: 13-10, Bowl Record: 1-0
Ray Marshall is one of the more memorable linebackers in WVU history. He was not, however, always a Mountaineer. He began his career as a Catamount at Potomac State College. Marshall was a dominant player at the Junior College level, drawing interest from many schools. He did not have much of a desire to play for West Virginia until Coach Bobby Bowden convinced him to come to Morgantown. The decision would pay big dividends for the Mountaineers and Marshall as the team turned around from a 4-7 1974 campaign, to a 9-3 1975 campaign including a win in the Peach Bowl. For his time in Morgantown, Marshall would rack up 246 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions.
Memorable Game: Marshall was a destructive force in the 1975 Peach Bowl. After the Mountaineers had put together a surprising 8-3 record, they were given a bid to the 1975 Peach Bowl to play the North Carolina State Wolfpack. The Mountaineers had given up an early lead to the Wolfpack and trailed at half by 10-6. The Mountaineer defense, led by Ray Marshall, dominated the Wolfpack line, keeping the offense from scoring the rest of the way. Marshall made big tackles for loss and recorded a critical sack on third down late in the game. Marshall’s play in the game earned him Defensive MVP honors for the game. WVU won the Peach Bowl by a final of 13-10.

Competition: There are not too many other players who stand out at #63 for the Mountaineers. This number has seen relatively few players compared to some of the more popular numbers in the countdown. Marshall is the only player to really stick in my mind at this number.

Teaser: Tomorrow the countdown shifts back to linemen. This player was a significant contributor to some of the best rushing teams in Mountaineer history. He is West Virginia’s very own Cincinnati Kid.

Friday, June 29, 2012

64 Don Barclay

Hometown: Cranberry, PA
Career: 2008-2011
Record: 37-15, Bowl Record: 2-2 including a BCS win
Today we are honoring the Donald. No, I am not talking about Donald Trump, but Donnie Barclay. He came to WVU as a recruit in 2007 to play for Coach Rich Rodriguez and would redshirt that year. Unfortunately for Barclay and the Mountaineers, Rich Rod bolted town in favor of going to Michigan. Barclay would be forced to learn a new blocking scheme under Coach Bill Stewart and new Offensive Coordinator Jeff Mullen. Barclay would pick up the scheme quickly, earning the starting left tackle job his sophomore season. He would anchor the left side of the offensive line for three seasons, keeping rushers off of passers Jarrett Brown and Geno Smith. His grit and determination to becoming a great pass blocker really paid off the Mountaineers this past season, helping WVU win the Orange Bowl in blow-out fashion. He was honored with All-Big East honors this past season.

Memorable Game: Barclay’s efforts were critical to a pivotal win for the Mountaineers this past season in Cincinnati. The Mountaineers came into the contest versus the Bearcats with doubts lingering about whether this team could win a Big East Championship. They had just come off a shocking loss to upstart Louisville, leaving the team dazed and confused. Cincinnati was still very much alive for the Big East crown and needed a win over the Mountaineers to give them a shot at a BCS berth. The Mountaineers banded together for a gritty road win. The offense put up big yardage totals in the passing game thanks to superb pass blocking, giving the Mountaineers a three point lead late in the game. The defense would keep the Bearcats away from the endzone late, forcing a long field goal attempt to send the game into overtime. WVU’s special teams would come up with a blocked kick to preserve the 24-21 win. This was the turning point in the season. Had WVU lost for a second week in a row, the Big East title hopes would have evaporated and the team would have ended up with a sub-par bowl game and a much different set of expectations for this season.

Competition: There was a decent bit of competition for the #64 slot. Many solid WVU blockers have worn this number, but in the end, I went with the more current player due to the major recent success of the program. Others considered included: Dale Wolfley, Donnie Young, and Mike Enich.

Teaser: Tomorrow we change up the countdown with a non-lineman. This player was a stud linebacker during his era and was the field marshal of his defense. Opposing offenses knew that they had to neutralize him to move the football. He essentially proclaimed to the offense “YOU SHALL NOT PASS.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

65 Jeremy Sheffey

Hometown: Catlettsburg, KY
Career: 2003-2006
Record: 38-12, Bowl Record: 2-2 including a BCS win
Jeremy Sheffey was a mobile lineman for Coach Rich Rodriguez’s Mountaineer squads. He originally signed on as a recruit in the 2002 season but would end up redshirting. He would serve primarily as a back-up to Jeff Berk at guard during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. He would earn the starting job at left guard. His tremendous ability to make blocks at the second level would really help runners Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt blossom into Mountaineer legends. Make no mistake about it, without a player like Sheffey up front, then Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Owen Schmitt would not have been the dominating players that they became. Sheffey’s skills twice earned him All-Big East honors and a mention on the Outland Trophy watchlist.
I would also be remiss if I did not share my Sheffey story. During the 2005 season, I was living at Sterling Ridge Apartments. My roommates and I came home one Saturday night after going to the movies to find our apartment door open. As we walked in, I saw three hulking white guys and my instant reaction was “we’re being robbed and now they’re going to kill me.” Then I was calmed once I realized that they were not criminals, but drunks (imagine that, a drunk in Morgantown). It turned out that Sheffey and two other Mountaineer players were partying at one of my neighbor’s apartments when they decided to come to my apartment. Sheffey knew the guys who had lived there the year before and wanted to catch up with them. We had left the apartment unlocked, so the guys let themselves in, assuming that their friends would soon return. When the players realized their mistake, they profusely apologized. We ended up partying with the guys and had a good time. I’m sure Sheffey does not remember this night, but it was one of the most unique nights I had during my time in Morgantown.
Memorable Game: A day that I’m sure Jeremy Sheffey remembers is his outstanding performance against the Louisville Cardinals in 2005. This game would prove to be one of the biggest games in modern Mountaineer football history. While the Mountaineers had won a share of the previous two Big East Championships, the analysts we all predicting that newcomer Louisville would win the Big East. WVU was looking to prove the national media wrong, but would come out flat in the game. Midway through the third quarter, WVU trailed the Cardinals 24-7. The Mountaineer offense would find their rhythm and Steve Slaton would find the endzone, time and time again. The Mountaineers would trade scores with the Cardinals through two overtimes. The Mountaineers scored a touchdown and a two point conversion to start the 3rd overtime and Louisville would respond with a touchdown. The Mountaineer defense finally stepped up, forcing Brian Brohm to scramble, coming up short of the goal line. WVU beat Louisville in a wild 46-44 win in triple overtime.

Competition: Sheffey was a driving force of the great Mountaineer offenses of the mid-2000s. It also doesn’t hurt when you party with the blogger. I guess I could have considered players like Joe Jelich and Bill Lopasky, but I could not resist the chance to tell my personal story.

Teaser: The selection at #64, a Cranberry, PA native, was a solid performer in recent years for the Mountaineers. I would argue that his ability to lead block in run heavy offensive schemes as well as block well in a pass heavy schemes will earn him a special place in WVU fans memories. I know personally that the memory of his athletic ability lingers with me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

66 Chuck Howley

Hometown: Wheeling, WV
Career: 1955-1957
Record: 21-8-1, Bowl Record: 0-0
One of the best, and one of the most often forgotten, Mountaineers of all time is Chuck Howley. A local product from Wheeling, Howley was an incredible all-around athlete. He would earn a varsity letter in football, diving, gymnastics, and track for West Virginia. Howley was best-suited as a lineman in Coach Pappy Lewis’ scheme. Howley would find instant success for the Mountaineers, earning three consecutive selections to the All-Southern Conference team. The Chicago Bears would make Howley the 7th overall selection in the 1958 draft. He would play only one season for the Bears before suffering a knee injury that would keep him out of football until 1961. During that time, he was pumping gas in Wheeling. His career would be renewed with an offer from Coach Tom Landry’s newly formed Dallas Cowboys. Howley would have an amazing career as an outside linebacker for the “Doomsday Defense,” earning 6 All-Pro selections and Super Bowl V MVP (only MVP ever selected from losing team). It is amazing that Howley has been held out of Canton all these years. At least the people in Morgantown had the good sense to induct Howley into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
Memorable Game: Today’s memorable game is a good refresher for Mountaineer fans as we prepare for our inaugural Big XII seaon.
The 1956 season as a whole, was not a very memorable one for the Mountaineers. The defense was stout, but the offense failed to put up enough points to win some close games. The offense wouldn’t need many points to give the Mountaineers an early road win at Texas. The Mountaineer defense put on an incredible performance against the Longhorns. The defense twice held the Longhorns to field goals after they had marched the ball to within the Mountaineer five yard line. The Mountaineers would get one touchdown, a 15 yard run by Larry Krutko behind the blocking of Chuck Howley. The Mountaineers beat the Longhorns by a narrow margin, 7-6.
This was the first and last time the Mountaineers and Longhorns met on the grid iron until this coming season. WVU is undefeated against Texas and I will be on-hand in Austin, TX this year to root on the Mountaineers in their first Big XII road game.
Competition: As has been the case with all the competitions for spots on the countdown: when there is a WVU Sports Hall of Famer, they will usually win. No other player to wear #66 for the Mountaineers has had a Hall of Fame worthy career. But some have had pretty successful careers such as Selvish Capers, Theron Ellis, and Craig Wilson.
Teaser: Tomorrow we will honor a more recent Mountaineer graduate. This is the first player in the countdown to come from the state of Kentucky. He comes from the small town of Catlettsburg, known for the famous resident Michael Polakovs who became Ronald McDonald. Makes me want a to get a cheeseburger and listen to the rock music.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

67 Quinton Spain

Hometown: Petersburg, VA
Career: 2011-Present
Record: 10-3, Bowl Record: 1-0 including a BCS win
Big Quinton Spain came to WVU as a recruit with a ton of potential. Quinton was vying for a starting job along Coach Dana Holgorsen’s offensive line going into this past Spring. Spain had a difficult time maintaining his weight and learning the blocking scheme, ultimately serving as a back-up at guard and tackle. Coach Holgorsen has tabbed Spain as the starter at left tackle in the early depth chart. Spain has all the tools to be a great left tackle for the Mountaineers, and he’ll be given the opportunity to prove that this season.
Memorable Game: Spain isn’t quite a star yet, but he did see a decent bit of playing time in the game at Rutgers this past season. The game had major significance for both squads. West Virginia was needing a rebound performance after being ambushed by Syracuse the week prior. Rutgers was in search of a big win in honor of Eric Legrand (player paralyzed in game against Army).

While the Mountaineers were touched by Rutgers entrance featuring Legrand, they were there for the victory. Conventional wisdom would dictate that games played in heavy snow like this game would be low scoring. That’s why no one was surprised by the halftime score Rutgers 31 – WVU 21! Both offenses were executing well in the first half and the defense could not seem to finish a tackle. So when the field crew cleared the snow off the field, fans were expecting to see an even higher scoring half. Lo and behold, WVU’s defense would force multiple turnovers and the offense would only put up 10 points. The Mountaineers would pull out a narrow victory on an emotional Saturday, defeating Rutgers 41-31.

Competition: Now you must be asking yourself, “was there really no one better than Spain?” Well the player that is probably most deserving for this spot is Eric de Groh. He played in the mid 90s and was a driving force in the success of the Bulger and Zeroue teams. I would have gone with de Groh had it not been for a total lack of pictures online.

Teaser: Hopefully today’s selection doesn’t get too many of you howling at me. I promise that tomorrow’s WVU Sports Hall of Fame selection will have you talking about one of the greatest players of kind. I just hope it’s not a full moon tomorrow, otherwise things might get a little hairy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

68 Mike Dent

Hometown: Jeannette, PA
Career: 2005-2008
Record: 42-9, Bowl Record: 4-0 including two BCS wins
Dent was a member of the great 2005 recruiting class. Mike Dent spent his first two seasons on campus learning from on the best college football centers to play for the Mountaineers: Dan Mozes. Dent would back-up Mozes while also seeing spot duty at guard. Once Mozes graduated, Dent took over at center for the rest of his WVU career. He would clear the way for Steve Slaton and Noel Devine to tear through opposing defensive lines. He earned 2nd team All-Big East in 2007 and 2008 while also being a Remington Award finalist in 2008.
Memorable Game: The 2007 season was one of many highs and a few unbearable lows. The Mountaineers began the season with expectations of playing for a National Championship. WVU was fresh off a dismantling of the hapless Herd by the time they were set for their first real road test of the season, at Maryland. The Mountaineer offense had been clicking in the first two games and the game against Maryland would be no different. The Terps coughed up the football on the first play of the game, leading to a Pat White touchdown. Dent and his fellow linemen absolutely man-handled the Terrapins defensive line, giving Slaton, White, Devine, and Schmitt ample running room. WVU piled up 353 yards rushing. For those who don’t recall, this game was Devine’s first big performance for WVU. He would rack up 136 yards on just 5 carries. The Mountaineers spoiled Maryland’s “blackout” game, beating the Terps by a score of 31-14.

Today’s memorable game is a special one to me. It was my first Mountaineer road game. I have to say, that while Maryland fans like to point out how obnoxious our own fans are (which there are quite a few that get too rowdy), some of those Terps fans can be equally hard to stomach. Nothing was better than seeing the sour faces of the fans that gave my friends and I such a hard time. We also made sure to point how the Terps had passed on Slaton, Devine, and Schmitt. Smart recuiting Fridge!

Competition: This one was a tough choice. Realistically this pick could have gone to Rick Phillips or Randy Weppler. I went with Mike Dent due to the quality of teams he was a part of. It’s hard to turn down a guy that helped the Mountaineer win 4 straight bowl games.

Teaser: Tomorrow’s choice is a lineman the size of Spain (figuratively speaking). Do you want another clue from me? You might need to enlist the Spanish Inquisition to get another big clue out of me. To be honest, I would never expect the Spanish Inquisition.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

69 Garin Justice

Hometown: Gilbert, WV
Career: 2002-2005
Record: 36-14, Bowl Record: 1-3 including a BCS win
Big Garin Justice came to Morgantown to play for Coach Rich Rodriguez in2002. He must have seen the potential in Coach Rod’s spread attack to commit to a program that suffered an awful 2001 season. By his sophomore season, Justice began to see some playing time, starting the season opener against Wisconsin and seeing action all throughout the season. Justice was plugged at starting right tackle his junior year and started the rest of his WVU career. It was because of athletic linemen like Justice, that WVU was able to turn their program into a perennial Big East Champion.
Memorable Game: Justice got quite a work out, running up and down the field, clearing the road for K.J. Harris in the 2004 home game against East Carolina. The Mountaineers came into the season opener against the Pirates with high hopes for the season. WVU was the favorite to win the Big East Championship and they wanted to start the season off with a big win. The Pirates defense had no chance of shutting down the potent Mountaineer offense that day, as WVU would rack up 478 yards on the ground alone. Justice cleared the way for K.J. Harris’ single game rushing record of 337 yards. The Mountaineers were just a much better team than East Carolina that day, winning by a blowout score of 56-23.

Competition: There are some out there who would argue that #69 should have gone to Tom Robsock. He was part of the 1993 team that went undefeated in the regular season. I tabbed Justice with this pick because it is player like him, the unheralded offensive linemen of his day, that are the reason WVU became Big East Champions year in and year out.

Teaser: Tomorrow we feature, imagine this, another offensive linemen. The player selected at #68 is a lineman from the 2000s. He certainly made his mark on the WVU football program. Some might argue that he left a dent in several opponents. When I think of his crushing blocks, I think to this scene from the Dumb and Dumber.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

70 John Ray

Hometown: Charleston, WV

Career: 1988-1991

Record: 29-16-1, Bowl Record: 0-2

Today, we take a look at one of the most massive linemen to play at West Virginia University. John Ray stood 6’ 10” and weighed in at 320 pounds. The West Virginia native came to play for Coach Don Nehlen right as the Mountaineers made a run at the National Championship in 1988. Ray was one of the best recruits in the country that year, fielding many offers from big time programs, but decided to stay home and play for the Mountaineers. He would prove to be a valuable asset for the Mountaineers, helping to keep the team competitive in the down years between Major Harris and Jake Kelchner.

Memorable Game: There were not too many majorly memorable games during John Ray’s time as a starter. The one game that stands out to me is the 1991 thrashing of the Terrapins in College Park, MD. The 1991 season marked the inaugural Big East season for the Mountaineers. WVU had limped out to a 2-1 record with narrow victories over Bowling Green and South Carolina after an embarrassing loss to Pitt in Week 1. The Mountaineers would make a statement in Week 4 against the Maryland Terrapins. The offense was moving the ball well in recent weeks, but struggled with turnovers. That would all change against Maryland. WVU ran up and down the field on the Terps, while doing a great job of protecting the ball. Ray and the offensive line cleared the way for the Mountaineer rushing attack to pile up 334 yards on the ground en-route to a blowout 37-7 victory.

Competition: John Ray got the nod hear due to his incredible stature, and the fact that he is the only notable player to wear #70 with a picture online (granted this is an admittedly bad picture). Some other players that you might remember at #70 include: Donnie Lindsey, Brad Hunt, and Travis Garrett.

Teaser: Enough with these older linemen! Tomorrow we will honor a relatively recent offensive lineman. Some might argue that I am making the wrong pick tomorrow, but I feel that this player is worthy. If you want justice, take it up with the court! I’m on a mission to make it to Hollywood (or at least somewhat miniscule WVU message board fame) just like Jay and Silent Bob! Maybe I need a freaking monkey?

(Warning video clip features explicit language)

Friday, June 22, 2012

71 Ben Dunkerley

Hometown: Glassport, PA
Career: 1951-1952
Record: 12-7, Bowl Record: 0-0
Ben Dunkerley had a brief but impactful career at West Virginia University. Dunkerley is probably the least well-known of the great Mountaineer linemen of his era. Coach Pappy Lewis was able to convince some less heralded athletes such as Dunkerley to come to Morgantown. What Coach Lewis had found was a raw athlete that made a major impact along the offensive line. Dunkerley’s first year on campus saw the Mountaineers go from a loser to a 5-5 record. By the 1952 season, with the influx of another talented recruiting class, the Mountaineers would once again be winners, with a 7-2 record. Dunkerley’s efforts earned him an All-Southern Conference mention in 1951 and 2nd team All-America in 1952. The WVU Sports Hall of Fame will induct Dunkerley this year.
Memorable Game: By the time the 1952 season came around, WVU was listening to rumblings about conference realignment (see it’s not just a recent craze). Eight of their Southern Conference foes were in discussion to form a new conference, what would become the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The Mountaineers wanted to be the ninth member of the conference and were in search of a statement win to prove their worth to the ACC contingency. West Virginia would get there shot in the season finale in 1952 at South Carolina. WVU got shelled be South Carolina in 1951 and the Mountaineers had vengeance in mind. The Mountaineers would run over the Gamecocks behind blocking from Dunkerley and the offensive line. WVU would prevail with a 13-6 road win to cement a solid season. While the win would not aid WVU’s case for ACC inclusion, the win sent a message to the rest of the Southern Conference: the Mountaineers were a contender. WVU would win the Southern Conference for the next 4 seasons.
Competition: This must sound like a broken record as of late, but there is no beating out a WVU Sports Hall of Famer for this spot. Other players of note include Kurt Kehl and Rick Lukowski.
Teaser: Tomorrow is one of the biggest linemen in WVU history, at least in terms of physical size. This player was a big hit in the late 80s and early 90s, much like the mullet. Why people ever thought this hairstyle was socially acceptable, I wil never understand. I mean seriously, who wants to look like Billy Ray Cyrus?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

72 Gene Lamone

Hometown: Wellsburg, WV
Career: 1951-1954
Record: 28-10, Bowl Record: 0-1
Gene “Beef” Lamone was a sensational two-way player for the Mountaineers. He would team with other WVU legends such as Sam Huff, Joe Marconi, and Fred Wyant to create some of the best Mountaineer teams in school history. Lamone was an exceptional blocker, playing Guard. On the defensive side of the ball, he was an adept tackler. “Beef” would earn 2nd team All-America honors in 1953, 3rd team All-America in 1954, and All-Southern Conference in 1954. He would play three years in the NFL but would ultimately step away from the game after a brief career. In 1995, Lamone was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.
Memorable Game: The 1954 season was one of the most memorable seasons in school history. WVU would rack up an 8-1 season and a Southern Conference Championship. Arguably the biggest victory from that season came in the third game of the campaign. West Virginia came into the road game against the 9th ranked Penn State with a 14th ranking. The Mountaineers trailed the Nittany Lions by a score of 14-6 late in the 4th quarter. WVU would manage to punch in two touchdowns, mostly on the legs of Fred Wyant and the option rushing game. WVU would complete the rally to win 19-14.
Competition: Other players to wear the #72 at WVU include John Bradshaw, Paul Sharkady, and Jack Linn.

Teaser: The star athlete selected for #71 is another member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. He churned out classic performances but without much herald until recently. When you see a famous player finally get his due, it’s a beautiful thing. This player long went unheralded, much like Hollywood director Robert Benton. Name sound familiar? He directed hit movies like Kramer vs Kramer and Superman. Although, I think Benton's work could have used a little edit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

73 Jake Figner

Special Note: Today is West Virginia Day. 149 years ago to the day, 50 counties in the western portion of the Confederate State of Virginia seceded to form the Union State of West Virginia. Since that day, millions have had the privilege of calling themselves West Virginians. I may not have been born in West Virginia, but like so many to spend any amount of time in the state, I will always think of myself as a Mountaineer. Montani Semper Liberi!
Now, back to today's blog!

Hometown: Fogelsville, PA
Career: 2005-2008
Record: 42-9, Bowl Record: 4-0 including two BCS wins
Jake Figner came to Morgantown with the hopes of winning multiple Big East Championships and competing for BCS titles. WVU fans were witness to the greatest three year run in Mountaineer history from 2005-2007. Figner would be part of the offensive line that made way for Mountaineer legends such as Pat White, Steve Slaton, Owen Schmitt, Darius Renaud, and Noel Devine. During Figner’s career, the Mountaineers won four consecutive bowl games, including two BCS wins in the Sugar Bowl (2005 season) and the Fiesta Bowl (2007 season). Figner would start at right tackle by 2006 and moved to right guard for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Because of unsung heroes like Figner, the Mountaineers were able to enjoy the greatest stretch in their illustrious history.
Memorable Game: The cherry on top of Figner’s career was the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl against North Carolina. The Mountaineers were in search of their fourth consecutive bowl victory but would face a difficult task in containing the Tarheel offense. The UNC team featured a pair of pro-calibur receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Greg Little. The Mountaineer defense would have a difficult time stopping UNC’s passing attack, giving up an early lead. Figner gave Pat White plenty of time in the pocket to find receiver Arnett, Starks, and Sanders as WVU would mount a late comeback. The Mountaineer offense prevailed, escaping with a narrow 31-30 win.

Competition: Figner was a solid blocker on some of the best teams in Mountaineer history. There was no other player that came close to Figner’s credentials, in my opinion.

Teaser: Tomorrow we get back to honoring WVU Sports Hall of Famers. The player selected for #72 has long held the nickname “Beef” for his sizable stature. His nickname would be fitting for a muscle man in the mafia, similar to names like Johnny Roastbeef. I could see this player as one of the Goodfellas.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

74 Joe Madsen

Hometown: Chardon, OH
Career: 2009-Present
Record: 37-15, Bowl Record: 2-2 including a BCS win
Joe Madsen came to WVU in 2008 to play for Coach Bill Stewart. By 2009, Madsen became the starter at center, and has started every game at center for the Mountaineers the past three seasons. He is expected to anchor the Mountaineer offensive line this coming season. WVU’s ability to run the ball against stout defenses such as Oklahoma and Texas will rest on the shoulders of players like Madsen. Given the way the Mountaineers performed in the Orange Bowl, many expect great things from the West Virginia offense and players like Madsen.
Memorable Game: Since Madsen was a Coach Stew recruit, I decided to highlight one of the better offensive performances of the Bill Stewart era. The Mountaineers entered the 2010 season with aspirations of reclaiming the Big East title. WVU was coming off a very tough loss at LSU coming into the game against UNLV. The Mountaineers would take out their frustrations of the previous week on the hapless Rebels. WVU dismantled the UNLV defense, scoring quickly and often. While the Mountaineers would lose the time of possession battle, but would dominate on the scoreboard 49-10.

Competition: It is difficult to pick amongst offensive linemen, given that there really are no statistics kept on offensive linemen. Probably the other most notable player to wear #74 was Jim LeBlanc.

Teaser: The player in line for tomorrow’s choice at #73 shares a birthday (September 16) with one of my celebrity crushes: Jennifer Tilly. Like Tilly, this player made a career off of his physical gifts. He used his to win bowl games, she used hers to land big movie roles like Liar Liar.

Monday, June 18, 2012

75 Sam Huff

Hometown: Farmington, WV
Career: 1952-1955
Record: 31-7, Bowl Record: 0-1
When you think of Mountaineer football players, you think of guys like Sam Huff. He grew up in a small mining town in the hills outside of Fairmont during the Great Depression. Living like that made Huff as hard as they come. He was an integral part of the great Mountaineer teams of WVU’s Golden Era. Huff played both offensive and defensive lines alongside other Mountaineer greats such as Bruce Bosley and Gene Lamone. Huff’s prowess earned him All-America Honors his senior season. Following a successful pro playing career, Huff would be honored with induction into Canton in 1982 and the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

Memorable Game: The Mountaineers opened up the 1953 campaign in Pittsburgh against the hated Panthers. Pitt was fired up to get revenge on the Mountaineers for embarrassing them in front of their home crowd in 1952. The Mountaineers would spoil the Panthers plans in a defensive struggle. Sam Huff cleared the way for Joe Marconi to move the chains against Pitt’s defense. On the defensive side of the ball, Huff kept the Panthers pinned down. West Virginia beat Pitt, in Pittsburgh, for the second consecutive year by a final of 17-7.
Competition: You can’t really compete with the first player to have his jersey retired. Having your jersey retired makes the statement “this is the best player ever to wear this jersey.” I won’t even bother to mention anyone else at #75.
Teaser: The next lineman in the countdown starred at center for the Mountaineers. He was a tall player at about 6’4”. While he is tall and athletic, I doubt he is much of a dancer. Historically speaking, tall white athletes are terrible dancers. Case in point: Mark Madsen.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

76 Dan Mozes

Hometown: Washington, PA
Career: 2003-2006
Record: 38-12, Bowl Record: 2-2 including a BCS win
After redshirting for the 2002 season, Dan Mozes became an immediate starter along the WVU offensive line. Mozes originally played at guard but would go on to star at center for the Mountaineers. Playing in Coach Rich Rodriguez’s spread rushing attack, Mozes excelled at downfield run blocking. He would clear the way for famous WVU rushers such as Quincy Wilson, K.J. Harris, Owen Schmitt, and Steve Slaton as well as dual threat passers such as Rasheed Marshall and Pat White. Mozes’ play helped the Mountaineers to 4 straight bowl games, culminating with a Sugar Bowl victory after the 2006 season. He would claim many personal accolades: 3 time All-American, 3 time All- Big East, twice named as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy (best offensive lineman in the nation), and winner of the Rimington Trophy in 2006. Mozes’ career is more than deserving of induction into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, an honor that this blogger expects to come in the near future.
Memorable Game: One of the most impressive performances that Dan Mozes had in the Old Gold and Blue came in the 2006 edition of the Backyard Brawl. The Mountaineers had high hopes for the 2006 season, beginning the year with the #5 ranking. WVU’s dreams of a National Championship were dashed at Louisville, but the Mountaineers were still in the race for a Big East Championship and Orange Bowl berth coming into the game against the Panthers. The crowd at Heinz Field was treated to an amazing Mountaineer offensive performance. Mozes anchored the offensive line as WVU steam rolled the defense to the tune of 641 yards. The game would best be remembered for the twin performances of Pat White and Steve Slaton. White would throw for 204 yards and run for 220 yards. Slaton accumulated 215 yards rushing and 130 yards receiving. Needless to say, WVU smoked Pitt by a final of 45-27.

Competition: Dan Mozes was the run-away pick at #76. No one else comes close and quite frankly, outside of Pat Eger, none of the other players at #76 stand out in my mind.

Teaser: We all know who will be the selection at #75. He is the first player in WVU football history to have his jersey retired. He is also one of only two Mountaineers to be inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. In short, he is THE Mountaineer Legend.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

77 Bruce Bosley

Hometown: Green Bank, WV
Career: 1952-1955
Record: 31-7, Bowl Record: 0-1
Bruce Bosley was one of the greatest athletes to ever play for the Mountaineers, at any position. Bosley was a stout defender, a ferocious blocker, and even excelled on special teams. What is amazing about Bosley is that he was discovered by chance! Coach Art “Pappy” Lewis traveled to Green Bank in 1951 and decided to drop in on a high school basketball game in which Bosley was playing. Coach Lewis was so impressed with Bosley that he offered him a scholarship on the spot. From the moment Bosley set foot on campus, he made a major impact for the Mountaineers. Bosley would start on both sides of the ball for the Mountaineers and would go on to earn All- Southern Conference honors in 1953, 1954, and 1955. During his senior season, he would earn consensus All-America honors, Jacobs Blocking Award (Southern Conference Best Lineman), and Southern Conference MVP honors. He would also have a solid pro career with the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. Bosley would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

Memorable Game: One game that best symbolizes Bruce Bosley’s athletic prowess is the 1953 game against Penn State. The Mountaineers were undefeated (5-0) and ranked 5th coming into the road match against the Penn State Nittany Lions. WVU had lost the 6 previous contests against the Nittany Lions. Bosley made it his personal mission to break the losing streak. He would make the biggest play of the game on special teams. Bosley tore through the punt coverage team, blocking the punt, and scoring a touchdown off the block. Bosley’s touchdown would give WVU the decisive edge in a narrow 20-19 win. The win would swing momentum in the series to WVU, which won the next two meetings against Penn State.

Competition: The #77 is quite popular at WVU. Bosley beat out fellow WVU Sports Hall of Fame inductee Brian Jozwiak. Bruce won out based on his College Football Hall of Fame selection. Other mentions at #77 include: Mike Compton, Solomon Page, and Josh Jenkins.

Teaser: Will we go for 3 Hall of Famers in 3 days? Unfortunately, no. Tomorrow’s selection at #76 is not yet a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, but is likely to be inducted in the near future (in my opinion). This offensive lineman led Mountaineer rushers to the red zone (and ultimately the end zone) much like Moses led the Israelites through the Red Sea. See what I did there?

Friday, June 15, 2012

78 Rich Braham

Hometown: Morgantown, WV
Career: 1990-1993
Record: 26-17-2, Bowl Record: 0-1
No other player in Mountaineer history is as inspirational as Rich Braham. After starring in football at University High School in Morgantown, Braham did not have a Division I scholarship offer. Undeterred by the lack of recruiting interest from the Mountaineers, Braham decided to try out for a spot as a walk-on in 1990. Not only would Braham make the squad, he would become a starter at left tackle by the end of his freshman season. He would go on to start every game for the Mountaineers from his sophomore season through his senior season. The big tackle would open up running lanes for Robert Walker and hold the pocket for Jake Kelchner during WVU’s undefeated 1993 regular season. Braham’s play in 1993 would earn him All-America honors, All-Big East honors, and would be named the team’s MVP. Braham would go on to be drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals but would be traded to the Cincinnati Bengals his rookie season. Braham would go on to play 13 seasons for the Bengals at guard and center. Braham would get the call to the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Memorable Game: The 1993 Mountaineers were in pursuit of the school’s first Big East Championship since the 1988 season and had their sights set on competing for a National Championship. To become champions, WVU would have to beat a very talented Miami Hurricanes squad. WVU came into the game against the 4th ranked Hurricanes with a 9-0 record and the 9th ranking. Braham and the Mountaineer offensive line would have their hands full with the talented Hurricane defensive front. Miami would record 4 sacks against WVU’s offensive line and held a 14-10 lead late into the fourth quarter. Braham and the offensive line would make crucial blocks to spring Robert Walker for the game-winning 19 yard touchdown run to give the Mountaineers a huge upset victory, 17-14. The win would help seal WVU’s Big East Championship and, following a win over Boston College in the season finale, would set the Mountaineers up for a National Championship shot.

Competition: Braham was a slam dunk selection. He is a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, an All-American, and even had a memorable pro career. No other player at #78 really had a shot here. In fact, the only other player that comes to mind at #78 is Vince Mehalko.

Teaser: We honor yet another member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame at #77. This player is quite a throwback, playing in what is commonly referred to as the “Golden Era” of Mountaineer football. When I think back to his playing era, all I can picture is Tom Bosley, Henry Winkler, and Ron Howard. If you don’t like Happy Days, then you can “sit on it!”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

79 Dave Van Halanger

Hometown: Turtle Creek, PA
Career: 1973-1975
Record: 19-15, Bowl Record: 1-0
Dave Van Halanger: the name alone is large. He played at an imposing size of 6 feet 6 inches and 260 pounds. Van Halanger was a fixture at tackle for Coach Bobby Bowden’s Mountaineer squads in the mid-70s. He would open rushing lanes for WVU running backs such as Artie Owens, Dwayne Woods, Heywood Smith, and Ron Lee. In the passing game, he protected quarterback Dan Kendra. The team struggled to find its rhythm in the 1974 season, Van Halanger’s first as a starter. The Mountaineers would put it all together in 1975 with the offense overpowering opposing defenses to give WVU a 9-3 record and Peach Bowl victory. Following his career at WVU, Van Halanger would go on to become one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country. He is currently working for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Memorable Game: Now that we are dealing with offensive linemen, it is nearly impossible to track down statistics of any kind. So when it comes to this section for offensive linemen, I will talk about a memorable team offensive performance.
The Mountaineers came into the late season home game against the Kent State Golden Flashes with a 5-2 record. WVU was looking to build off of the momentum from beating Virginia Tech the prior week. The Mountaineer offense, which struggled to get anything going against the Hokies, would have no issues hanging points on the Golden Flashes. Van Halanger and the Mountaineer offensive line cleared the way for Owens and company to pile up 369 yards rushing. The line would also give Kendra the time he needed to amass 169 yards passing. WVU would ultimately blow out Kent State, 38-13.

Competition: Van Halanger was the only name at #79 that jumps out. Some other players considered were: Brian Smider, Tanner Russell, Greg Isdaner, and Nick Kindler.

Teaser: Tomorrow we honor another member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. This player went from a walk-on to Mountaineer legend to NFL starter. He was Big and he is now Rich, enough said.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

80 Ryan Nehlen

Hometown: Morgantown, WV
Career: 2009-Present
Record: 28-11, Bowl Record: 1-2
Today’s selection was made based on potential and legacy. Let’s face it, Ryan Nehlen has not shown much on the field to this point in his career. He worked hard this past season to earn playing time in Coach Holgerson’s spread passing game, but just could not crack the starting line-up. With the departures of Devon Brown, Willie Milhouse, and Brad Starks, Nehlen will have a solid shot at playing time this coming season. Also, I could not resist the opportunity to give a tip of the hat to Mountaineer coaching legend Don Nehlen. So Ryan got a little boost here from his grandfather.

Memorable Game: Ryan Nehlen showed a glimpse of his potential during the Bowling Green game this past season. He ran his routes well and made the most of his targets from Geno Smith. Nehlen caught his lone career touchdown against the Falcons. WVU’s offense would man-handle the outmatched Bowling Green secondary and secure a 55-10 victory in the driving rain.

Competition: The #80 features few players of note and none with as famous a grandfather as Nehlen’s. Honorable mentions include: Carlos Osegueda, Todd Fisher, and Jeff Seals.

Teaser: Tomorrow starts a long run of offensive linemen. Linemen will dominate the majority of the selections in the 70s, 60s, and 50s. When I tried to come up with a good teaser for tomorrow’s selection, I could not help but think of the movie Van Helsing. Like the movie, this player is just a plain old-school enforcer. It also helps that his name sounds very similar to Van Helsing (that should be a dead give-away).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

81 Ken Herock

Hometown: Munhall, PA
Career: 1960-1962
Record: 12-16-2, Bowl Record: 0-0
Ken Herock was part of arguably the worst team in WVU football history (1960). The 1960 season was Coach Gene Corum’s first in Morgantown and the team struggled to pick up the new scheme, finishing the campaign at 0-8-2. Fortunately for players like Herock, Coach Corum was able to turn the team around, creating a winning squad by 1962. Like many players of his era, Herock played both offense and defense. Herock is predominantly remembered for his play as tight end. He would amass 292 yards and 2 touchdowns for his career. At the conclusion of his time in Morgantown, Herock would go on to earn a spot on the Oakland Raiders roster, becoming the first Mountaineer to play in a Super Bowl (losing in Super Bowl II to Green Bay). After his playing career, Herock became an executive for various teams in the NFL.
Memorable Game: The 1961 season was a trying year for the Mountaineers. WVU opened the season with three straight losses heading into the home game against Southern Conference opponent Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers, frustrated by close losses, were looking for a big game against the Hokies. The WVU players came out fired up and would dominate the Hokies on both sides of the ball. Herock would contribute one of the four Mountaineer touchdowns on the day. WVU beat VT by a final score of 28-0.
Competition: Statistically speaking, Darrell “Coast to Coast” Miller was the logical choice. Again, there are only so many pictures of former players online, so when a picture of Herock became available, I had to jump on the opportunity. Also considered here was Keith Winn.
Teaser: The selection at #80 is famous, at least in name. He is the grandson of a Morgantown legend. No, I’m not talking about Johnny West, but the grandson of the Godfather of modern Mountaineer football.

Monday, June 11, 2012

82 Anthony Becht

Hometown: Drexel Hill, PA
Career: 1996-1999
Record: 27-20, Bowl Record: 0-3
One of the most well-known tight ends in West Virginia football history is Anthony Becht. He joined the Mountaineers in 1996 and quickly became a big, reliable target for Marc Bulger and the Mountaineers offense. Becht was the go to player in short yardage situations while speedy receivers like Khori Ivy and David Saunders stretched the field. When Becht graduated, he was second amongst tight ends for career receptions (behind Bischoff). Becht caught 83 passes for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. Following a successful career in Morgantown, Becht would go on to be drafted by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Becht is still playing in the NFL, currently he plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Memorable Game: The Mountaineers started the 1998 season with a 2-1 record and a 16th ranking heading into the road game at Navy. WVU was seeking a tough road win in Annapolis. Becht would provide a solid performance, blocking for Amos Zeroue and providing Marc Bulger with a big target in the red zone. For the day, he would snag 3 passes for 37 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His performance would help WVU overcome an early 17-3 deficit. The Mountaineers rallied to a 45-24 win over the Midshipmen.

Competition: This was another tough choice. There were many solid receivers that were in contention for this selection, but in the end, I could not see anyone but Anthony Becht at this spot. He had terrific statistics as a tight end and is one of the more notable players from the 1990s. Also considered were Rayshawn Bolden and Alric Arnett.

Teaser: The selection at #81 is a player who was a solid pass catcher for the Mountaineers. He went on to have a successful pro football career as a player and then later as a player executive. He is probably most well remembered at the Atlanta Falcons GM that traded Brett Favre to the Green Bay packers for a pack of gum (really a first round pick used on Tony Smith who was worth about as much as a pack of Big Red). But let’s face it, this was not the last time someone would pick a nobody over Brett Favre.