Hometown: East Cleveland, OH
Record: 29-18, Bowl Record: 1-1
Today, we honor one of the greatest players in college football history. Darryl Talley is a member of the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame (Class of 1996) and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame (Class of 2010). Talley came to West Virginia University to play for Coach Frank Cignetti. Following the 1979 season, WVU would move forward with a new coach (Don Nehlen) and a new home (Mountaineer Field). The change would prove good for Talley and the Mountaineers as the team quickly became a winner, advancing to two bowl games in Nehlen’s first two seasons. Talley was a monster for WVU, racking up 484 tackles, 19 sacks, 5 interceptions, and a punt block returned for a touchdown. At the time Talley graduated from WVU, he was the school’s all-time leader in tackles. Talley would take his talents to Buffalo in the 1983 NFL Draft. He would help propel the Bills to four straight AFC championships and would retire as the Bills all-time leader in tackles with 1,137. At all levels, Talley was a dominant linebacker.
Memorable Game: Talley had a career full of memorable performances for the Mountaineers. He set his WVU career mark for tackles in a game against the Boston College Eagles in 1982. The 16th ranked Mountaineers came into the game against Boston College with a sour taste in their mouths. Having lost a tight contest the previous week to the 2nd rated Pitt Panthers, WVU was looking for retribution against 19th ranked BC. The game would prove to be a defensive struggle as neither offense could get into rhythm. Talley and the Mountaineer defense harassed Doug Flutie all day, forcing the pint-sized QB to throw 4 interceptions. Talley would earn player of the week honors from Sports Illustrated for his 15 tackles and 3 tackles for loss. WVU would beat BC 20-13 in Morgantown, to move their record to 4-1 on the season.
Competition: When you are up against a Hall of Famer, you don’t really stand a chance. Unfortunately for players like Chris Nield and Jeff Merrow, there was really no choice here. I imagine that Talley will always be remembered as #90 for the Mountaineers.
Teaser: Now that we are finished with the 90s, it’s time to change things up a bit and talk about some offensive players. The next stop in the countdown is #89, featuring a player that, while talented, didn’t quite reach his full potential. He had all the attributes to be a smash hit, but just fell a bit short, much like the early 90’s cult-favorite film: Suburban Commando.