Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Record: 41-9, Bowl Record: 3-1 including two BCS wins
There was probably no more versatile defensive back than Eric Wicks. He started at all three safety positions for Coach Casteel’s 3-3-5 odd stack defense from 2005-2007. As many Mountaineer fans are aware, this is no small fete. Each of the safety positions require a special set of skills that range from run support, to pass rush, to deep pass coverage. Wicks was one of the few players that could do it all. When you look at old gam footage, you’ll find Wicks making crucial sacks, timely interceptions, and taking turnovers into the endzone. His stellar play earned him All-Big East selections in 2006 and 2007. He ended his WVU career with 202 tackles, 8 interceptions, 12 sacks, and 2 touchdowns.
Memorable Game: Wicks made the most of his first opportunity to start for the Mountaineers, the 2005 season opener at Syracuse. Wicks and the rest of the Mountaineers were looking to start the season off with a victory over the Orange. The game lacked the fireworks that would be the trademark of Mountaineers game late in the 2005 season. The game was a defensive grudge match, featuring an abundance of turnovers (5 by the Mountaineers and 2 by the Orange). West Virginia got their lone touchdown of the game from an Eric Wicks interception return for a touchdown. The Mountaineer defense would win the game while the offense was struggling to figure out its identity. West Virginia collected a sloppy first win of the season, 15-7.
Competition: The stiffest competition for this spot was Dave Lockwood. He was a great defensive back in the late 1980s and a solid defensive backs coach. Wicks got the spot based largely on personal bias. What can I say, I’m a big Eric Wicks fan. Not that his exploits don’t stand on their own merit.
Teaser: The pick at #40 is by now, known equally for his talents on the field and his public drunken stupors. On the field, he came through in the clutch. Off the field, he is a drunken idiot. What Mountaineer fan can’t relate to this? For more footage of people being drunken buffoons, take a look at the Hangover.