Hometown: Trenton, NJ
Record: 23-13, Bowl Record: 0-3
Gary Stills was a ferocious linebacker for the Mountaineers in the late 90s. Following a quiet freshman season in 1995, Stills made the coaches take notice in spring drills in 1996. He proved to the Mountaineer coaching staff that he was worthy of a starting spot and would prove to be an incredible pass rusher. Stills had a knack for shedding blocks and finding his way to the quarterback. Stills finished his stint in Morgantown with 159 tackles and 26 sacks. Stills is tied for the school record for most sacks in a game with 4 sacks. He earned All-Big East honors in 1997 and 1998. Following his career in Morgantown, Stills would go on to play for the Chiefs, Ravens, and Rams in the NFL. He was also a member of the 2009 UFL Champion Las Vegas Locomotives.
Memorable Game: Gary Stills set the school record for sacks in a game against the Thundering Herd of Marshall. 1997 was the first season for Marshall at the Division 1-A (FBS) Level. The Herd was very cocky after dominating the lower level of competition for the previous 5 seasons. The Mountaineers were looking to put their “little brother” school in their place. Both squads came out firing, with the schools trading scores early on. Marshall’s offense had powered them to a 31-28 lead late in the game. The Mountaineer defense would turn up the heat on Chad Pennington, shutting out the Herd the rest of the way. Gary Stills would have a big hand in WVU clamping down on Marshall. He would punish Pennington with four sacks and three pass deflections to go along with his 10 tackles on the day. Zeroue and the offense would tack on two late touchdowns to pull-out the win for the Mountaineers. The 1997 game would prove to be the last time the two schools would play in the 90s. Marshall fans argue that WVU would not play them during this time because they were too good. While I’m unaware of the reasons for the series to be put on the shelf, I can say that it helped to pump up the rivalry we see today.
Competition: Okay so I went with Stills instead of Dunlap. Yes, Steve Dunlap does hold the school record for tackles in a season (190) and had one of the most impressive careers for a linebacker in school history. But when it came to making my selection, I could not stop finding game highlights of Stills sacking quarterbacks and disrupting blocking schemes, making other teams look silly. This is most likely my age bias, but I leaned towards Stills for this selection. I do concede that this has been the toughest call so far on the countdown.
Teaser: Tomorrow’s pick is definitely going to be a surprise for everyone. Again, photo availability ruled the day. I’m like a photo hunter at this point. Maybe if I worked for the WVU Athletic Department, I would have an easier time finding appropriate pictures. I’ve looked through so many pictures by now, it’s like I work in a One Hour Photo lab. I’m glad I don’t though; otherwise I might become a crazy stalker like Robin Williams.