Hometown: Setauket, NY
Record: 29-16-2, Bowl Record: 0-2
As I have said before during this countdown, the West Virginia Mountaineers program is built on the back of skill players and special teams players alike. One of the greatest special teams players to come through Morgantown, or any college campus to be honest, is Todd Sauerbrun. Arguably the best punter in school history, Sauerbrun is an often overlooked Mountaineer (mostly because he is in fact, a punter). Sauerbrun first saw snaps as a freshman in 1991. He would go on to become the starting punter and also served as the place kicker. Sauerbrun had an incredible boot on him, able to fire off some of the longest punts in schools history. He was also pretty accurate with his kick placement, able to pin opponents deep in their own ends of the field, helping WVU win the field position battle. Sauerbrun was such a talented punter, he set an NCAA record with a punt average of 48.4 yards/punt. He earned a consensus 1st Team All-America selection in 1994. He would also garner All-Big East honors in 1992, 1993, and 1994. Following graduation, Sauerbrun went on to play in the NFL, being drafted 56th overall by the Chicago Bears. Sauerbrun would spend the next 13 years playing in the NFL, earning 4 All-Pro selections. Sauerbrun proved on both the college and professional levels that he is one of the greatest punters to ever play the game.
Memorable Game: Now that we have established the fact that Todd Sauerbrun has one heck of an ability to punt the ball, we now will take a look at a game in which he showcased his ability to put the ball through the uprights. No game exemplifies this facet of his game, better than the 1993 showdown with Louisville. As we have been discussing the past two days, 1993 was a good year for WVU. The Mountaineers won all their games, including the game against Lousville. The game was a shoot-out between two powerful offenses. Louisville, under Coach Howard Schnellenberger, featured a top notch passing game that gave the WVU defense fits all day. The deciding factor in the game would be special teams. Louisville could not punt the ball well, giving West Virginia an edge in the field position battle. The Mountaineers would need to rely on Todd Sauerbrun to keep the Mountaineers in the game. Sauerbrun would convert 3 out of 5 field goal attempts on the day (one of them was blocked). Sauerbrun’s 36-yard field goal with a little over 10 minutes left in the game was the game deciding score in a tight 36-34 win for the Mountaineers.
Competition: I’m sure many of my readers are upset with the selection of a punter here at #16. The other options like Jarrett Brown and Shaun Foreman are clearly fan favorites. Both players had solid success as Mountaineer players. Both players are sexier picks than Sauerbrun, but there is no way that I was going to pick either of them over such a talented punter. I know, many people discredit this pick because it is a punter, but when you are one of the best of all-time at your position, you are going to win your spot on this countdown.
Teaser: Back to skill players tomorrow! The selection at #15 is a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, hailing from Pennsylvania. He was quarterback for a team that won arguably the most exciting Super Bowl ever. The way that Super Bowl ended, reminds me of the story of Ray Finkle from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.