Friday, August 17, 2012

15 Jeff Hostetler

Hometown: Hollsople, PA
Career: 1982-1983
Record: 18-6, Bowl Record: 1-1
During his time in Morgantown, Coach Don Nehlen was very adept at recruiting transfer players for the Mountaineers. One of those transfers was quarterback Jeff Hostetler. The Hollsople, PA native originally selected Penn State coming out of high school. Hostetler would start two games for Coach Joe Paterno, before Joe-Pa decided to make Todd Blackledge the starting quarterback. Down, but not out, Hostetler decided to transfer to a school where he could show Joe-Pa the error he had made. Hostetler decided to come to Morgantown in the spring of 1981. After sitting out the 1981 season due to transfer rules, Hostetler was given the task of leading the Mountaineers in a huge road game against Oklahoma. That game would show that Hostetler was the real deal and launched his successful Mountaineers career. In his two seasons in Morgantown, Hostetler would complete 51.6% his passes for 4,261 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. Hostetler’s impressive statistics underscored his importance to the Mountaineers program. He propelled the Mountaineers to two bowl games and was key player in elevating the national perception of West Virginia. His success in Morgantown led to a long pro career in the NFL, playing for the Giants, Raiders, and Redskins. During his NFL career, Hostetler would win two Super Bowls, starring in SB XXV in a nail-biter against the Buffalo Bills. While he will never make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he did make the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.

Memorable Game: Hostetler’s most impressive performance for the Mountaineers was his first, in a road game against Oklahoma. The game in Norman, OK was the 1982 season opener and came 4 years after the Mountaineers were embarrassed their by a score of 52-10. Coach Nehlen’s squad was looking for a monumental upset of the 9th ranked Sooners. Oklahoma, under Coach Barry Switzer, was expected to be in the mix for the National Championship while the Mountaineers were expected to be a middle of the road team. The heat that day played a factor in West Virginia falling behind early, 14-0. Hostetler led the Mountaineers on late scoring drives in the first half to take a 20-14 lead into halftime. Early in the second half, Oklahoma would block a punt for a touchdown to knot the game at 27-27. The fourth quarter would belong to the Hostetler. He would engineer two touchdown drives to help the Mountaineers pull away from the Sooners. The Mountaineers defense would clamp down on Oklahoma, preserving a 41-27 victory for WVU. The win is regarded as one of the biggest upsets in West Virginia football history.

Competition: While Hostetler was the choice for this spot on the countdown, there was one other stellar #15 available: James Jett. He was a talented receiver that had the goods to play in the NFL. A couple other notables to wear #15 include Charles Pugh and Sedrick King.
Teaser: Tomorrow we honor the career of another Mountaineer legend. He made his career taking wins from big programs and gave the Mountaineers many more wins. His exploits were like that of Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest (if Robin Hood were a quarterback that is).

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