Hometown: Morgantown, WV
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!”