Hometown: Akron, OH
Record: 29-17-1, Bowl Record: 0-3
One of the most under-valued prospects coming out of high school, Mike Fox did not receive any offers from a big school. Coach Don Nehlen decided to make an offer to Fox in the spring of 1986, snagging a player that would turn out to be one of the most memorable defensive ends in West Virginia history. He would immediately see spot duty his freshman and sophomore seasons prior to becoming a starter his junior year. Fox was a driving force in helping the Mountaineers complete the perfect regular season in 1988, ultimately losing to Notre Dame in the National Championship. During his senior season, Fox was unstoppable, registering 10 sacks. He would wind up with 146 tackles and 13 sacks for his Mountaineer career. Following college, he would go on to win a Super Bowl with the New York Giants (or should I say: Scott Norwood lost the Super Bowl for the Buffalo Bills).
Memorable Game: Mike Fox set personal career bests for tackles and sacks in a game in WVU’s 1989 win over the Syracuse Orange. This game would decide West Virginia’s bowl fate for the 1989 postseason. The Mountaineers needed a win to make it to a major bowl game. The Orange were looking to secure a win in retribution for the shellacking they had taken in Morgantown the year before. The Syracuse faithful made the dome deafening. While the Orange would bring the noise, WVU would bring the pain. West Virginia’s defense would set the tone for the afternoon, forcing 5 turnovers. Mike Fox would finish with 9 tackles and 2 sacks for the afternoon, helping to secure a 24-17 win for the Mountaineers. The win would earn WVU a Gator Bowl bid.
Competition: When you read about West Virginia’s 1988 season, you invariably see the image of Mike Fox coming around the end. It’s just reflexive, when you think of #61 for the Mountaineers, you think of Mike Fox. Other players that are worthy of mention include Eric Jobe and Joe Nicely.
Teaser: At #60, the blog highlights a surprise pick. This native of Dublin, VA was a lead blocker for Amos Zeroue in the late 90s. When I think of hard hitting sports and Dublin, I think of Norfolk’s own Fighting Jamesons.