Hometown: Peterstown, WV
Record: 33-15, Bowl Record: 2-1
Many West Virginia fans, when asked who they thought held the school record for career interceptions, would most likely respond with “Aaron Beasley.” I like many fans (before undertaking this blog) would have responded similarly. In fact, the record holder is Steve Newberry with 20 career interceptions. He was a member of Coach Nehlen’s first recruiting class in Morgantown. He earned playing time as a freshman, recording 6 interceptions, then a record for a freshman. Newberry would become a starter his sophomore season at cornerback, a position he would hold the rest of his career in Morgantown. Early in his junior season, Newberry set the school record for career interceptions at 16, in a game against Pacific. By the time Newberry had finished his playing time in Morgantown, he had set the career record for interceptions at 20. He also totaled 191 tackles for the Mountaineers. Unfortunately, his success at West Virginia would not translate to the NFL. Newberry would earn WVU Sports Hall of Fame induction in 2011, fitting recognition for a tremendous defensive back.
Memorable Game: Newberry set the school record for career interceptions against Pacific. The Mountaineers came into the game against Pacific with a 1-0 record. The game against Pacific was essentially a “rent-a-victim” game. West Virginia was expected to completely out-class the Tigers. The Mountaineers performed as expected, dominating all three phases of the game. The defense smothered Pacific, holding the offense to 52 yards rushing and forcing three interceptions. Newberry’s interception was the 16th of his career, a new school record. For that turnover alone, this game is memorable. The Mountaineers demolished the Tigers by a final of 48-7.
Competition: This selection was a difficult one. There was a glut of choices for this spot on the countdown. Arguments could be made for A.B. Brown, Walter Mahan, and Terrance Garvin. Predictably, I have a knack for selecting players who set school records and are members of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.
Teaser: We continue the countdown with another defensive back for the selection at #27. The selection at #27 was a boss in the defensive backfield. This player, from Charleston, came to West Virginia University in the late 1990s/ early 2000s. That was about the same time that Rick Ross was gaining traction in the hip hop community.