Hometown: Pottstown, PA
Record: 28-17-2, Bowl Record: 0-2
One of the best recruits of the Don Nehlen era was Aaron Beasley. He gave West Virginia a much needed shut-down corner to complement the stout rush defenses of the mid-1990s. After seeing duty as a nickelback his freshman season, he became a starting cornerback for the remainder of his WVU career. Beasley made quarterbacks pay for throwing to his side of the field, accumulating 19 career interception (second most in school history), taking three of them back for scores. He collected 10 of those interceptions in 1994, setting the school’s single season record for interceptions. Beasley would only collect 5 interceptions as a senior as many quarterbacks elected to not throw in his direction, leading to a well-deserved consensus All-American selection. After a successful stint in Morgantown, Beasley went on to be one of the major players for the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996, where he spent 6 of his 9 NFL seasons. Beasley was named to the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
Memorable Game: One of Beasley’s interceptions for a touchdown came in the 1994 game against Temple. The Mountaineers had begun the 1994 season with a disappointing 1-4 record. With little hope of making a bowl game, the Mountaineers were playing loose, free of expectations. They would rally around one another to win three of the next four games, bringing their record to 4-5 heading into the road match-up with the Temple Owls. The Mountaineers (as was usual in the history of this series) were heavy favorites against the Owls. West Virginia scored early and often, embarrassing the Owls in front of their empty stadium. Beasly picked off an errant pass late in the game and took it back more than 60 yards for a touchdown. The interception would be his 10th (and final) interception of his record setting 1994 campaign. WVU smashed Temple 55-17, improving their record to 5-5 on the season, keeping their bowl hopes alive.
Competition: Beasley was the best defensive back to play for the Mountaineers. He stills holds the school record for interceptions in a season and second most for his career. This selection was difficult, as there were many other well-qualified players available. I could have gone with Garrett Ford Jr., Ray Surbaugh, or current player Ryan Clarke. Ultimately, Beasley’s school record and All-America nod set him apart in this narrow race.
Teaser: Tomorrow we reflect on the great career of a WVU Sports Hall of Fame running back. His career was one for the ages, although his story if often not told with the appropriate glory. Such as with the story of Alexander the Great; a great tale can be told in a sub-par medium. Hopefully, I will do this player better justice than Oliver Stone did for Alexander.