Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ
Record: 23-24, Bowl Record: 1-1
When Avon Cobourne came to Morgantown in the late 1990s, no one thought that he would eventually become West Virginia University’s all-time leading rusher. Cobourne was recruited to serve as Zereoue’s back-up during his freshman season, eventually transitioning into the starting role as an upper classman. When Zereoue opted to enter the NFL draft a year early, Cobourne was thrust into the starting running back role. Cobourne burst onto the scene in 1999, carrying the ball for 1,138 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Cobourne followed up his breakout freshman season with another steller performance in 2000, racking up 1,018 yards and 6 touchdowns. Some running backs would be adversely affected by a coaching change midway through their career, but Cobourne kept on performing without missing a beat. In Coach Rodriguez’s first season, Cobourne was essentially the entire offense, totaling 1,298 yards and 12 touchdowns. With Zereoue’s rushing record in sight, Cobourne set out to have a monster senior season. Coach Rodriguez fed Cobourne the ball constantly, allowing Cobourne to break the all-time rushing record, finishing his Mountaineer career with 5,164 yards rushing and 42 touchdowns. His 1,710 yards as a senior also set WVU’s single season rushing record. Cobourne’s stellar playing career earned him a pair of first team All-Big East selections. Cobourne would not find much success in the NFL, but would go on to be a star of the CFL. He won the Grey Cup in 2009, earning the Grey Cup MVP in the championship victory.
Memorable Game: Cobourne showed off his stellar rushing ability in the 2002 home match-up with East Carolina. Cobourne and the Mountaineers came into the game with a 2-1 record and an optimistic outlook for the rest of the season. East Carolina was not exactly a tough opponent for WVU. The Pirates were completely blind-sided by the Mountaineers offensive onslaught. West Virginia jumped out to a 27-7 lead at half time. Cobourne poured it on the outclassed Pirates defense, amassing 260 yards rushing and two touchdowns. West Virginia dominated East Carolina 37-17.
Competition: Cobourne will likely be West Virginia’s all-time leading rusher for at least the next 6 seasons (with Coach Holgorsen’s contract extension). He will soon be inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. There was no way that the selection at #22 could have gone to anyone else. There are some other tremendous athletes to wear #22 such as Bo Orlando, Tom Pridemore, and Brandon Hogan. Unfortunately, I cannot split the honor of #22 four ways.
Teaser: Let’s be honest: if you do not know who the selection is for #21, a number that has been officially retired by West Virginia, then you are reading the wrong blog. However, for the truly dense reader out there, we will be honoring a famous WVU running back from the 1920s, nicknamed “the rat.” If you can’t figure it out from all those clues, you should probably stick to animated movies like Ratatouille.