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
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.