Special Note: I'd like to wish a Happy 4th of July to all the Mountaineers out there!
And now on to Jeff Noechel!
Hometown: Farimont, WV
Record: 36-14, Bowl Record: 1-3 including a BCS win
Jeff Noechel came out of Fairmont to play for Shinnston native, Rich Rodriguez in the spring of 2002. He was just the type of linebacker that Defensive Coordinator Jeff Casteel was looking for to play in the 3-3-5 odd stack. He was a smaller, quicker linebacker that could cover tight end and also take on lineman at the point of attack. His first three season, Noechel was used primarily in special teams, earning increased playing time in special defensive packages. By the time he was a senior, Noechel was a starting linebacker, helping the Mountaineers to a BCS win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Memorable Game: Jeff Noechel put up his best stats in the 2004 game against the Connecticut Huskies. The 2004 season was the first season for the Huskies at the FBS level as they were called up to the Big East following the departures of Virginia Tech and Miami to the ACC. While the Huskies had been a solid FCS team, they were not quite ready to be a competitive force in the Big East. The Mountaineers pounced on the weaker team. The WVU defense was all over the Huskie offense, forcing three turnovers. Noechel was a major contributor to the defensive dominance, intercepting a pass, forcing a fumble, and snagging 7 tackles. WVU steamrolled the Huskies 31-19.
Competition: Many would argue that I was too biased with this selection. I can easily see the argument for great Mountaineer players such as Rick Gilliam or Rocky Gianola. When it came to this selection, I could not resist the opportunity to highlight one of the more memorable players from my time at West Virginia University.
Teaser: Tomorrow, the blog will feature a memorable offensive lineman from the late 90s and early 2000s. This player came out of New Jersey to help power both pro style and spread rushing offenses under Coach Nehlen and Rodriguez. When I think back to this time and the state of New Jersey, I can’t help but think of Kevin Smith movies. My favorite Smith movie is Mallrats. Enjoy!