WVU Producing Top 100 NFL Players


CAMPUS CONNECTION
By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
May 15, 2014 02:16 PM

Defensive end Will Clarke is one of seven Mountaineers picked among the top 100 players of the NFL draft since 2010.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks Photo
With the NFL draft done for another year, Mike Mayock can finally take a breath, Todd McShay can get some sun, Ron Jaworksi can now break down pee-wee football game tape, John Clayton can return to his bedroom and listen to heavy metal and Mel Kiper Jr. can back off the hairspray for a little while.
 
Me? I can go back to watching the history of cheese on The Food Network.
 
As for West Virginia, the Mountaineers fared pretty well once again in this year’s NFL pick party with two third-round selections – running back Charles Sims going to Tampa Bay with the 69th overall pick and defensive end Will Clarke being picked 88th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.
 
It’s the third consecutive year West Virginia has had at least one player taken in the top 3 rounds, and the sixth and seventh top-100 players to be picked since 2010.
 
Mountaineer football’s Magnificent Seven includes Sims and Clarke this year, first-rounder Tavon Austin, second-rounder Geno Smith and third-rounder Stedman Bailey last year, first-rounder Bruce Irvin in 2012, and fourth-rounder Brandon Hogan (98th pick) in 2011.
 
It’s the best run of top-100 NFL talent for West Virginia during a four-year time period since 1996-2000 when West Virginia had 11 players taken among the top 100 picks in the draft.
 
Coincidentally, that run of outstanding players also happened to be when the Mountaineers were still playing in a very strong Big East Conference that included Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
 
Tight end Anthony Becht was the only first-rounder of the group, but there were six second-rounders (Jerry Porter, Barrett Green, Charles Fisher, John Thornton, Soloman Page and Mike Logan) and four third-rounders (Gary Stills, Amos Zereoue, Aaron Beasley and John Browning).
 
All but one – Charles Fisher – played multiple years in the NFL, and Fisher likely would have, too, if not for suffering a career-ending knee injury in his first-ever NFL game against the Tennessee Titans in 1999. Charles tore all three major ligaments in one of the worst knee injuries I had ever seen.
 
The Bengals thought they had their cover corner for years to come before Fisher went down while trying to cover Titan wide receiver Kevin Dyson.
 
The NFL, or course, stands for the National Football League, or, unfortunately in Charles’ case, Not For Long.
 
Briefly:
 
- Don't forget, the priority deadline for 2014 football season tickets is today. Visit the Mountaineer Ticket Office at the WVU Coliseum, call toll-free 1-800-WVU GAME or order online at WVUGAME.com.
 
- It will be interesting to see what Pitt and Virginia Tech chose to do with their future non-conference football schedules now that ACC athletic directors have voted to play an eight-game league schedule. That means the Panthers and Hokies will be playing four non-conference grid opponents instead of the three game non-conference schedule that West Virginia is now facing in the Big 12.
 
- Kansas State announced yesterday that quarterback Daniel Sams plans to transfer at the end of the semester to be closer to his family in Slidell, La. If you recall, Sams had a pretty good game against West Virginia last year in Manhattan, completing all eight of his pass attempts for 93 yards and a touchdown.
 
Sams was part of Bill Snyder’s QB tag-team tandem last year that included pocket passer Jake Waters, who also had a pretty good day against the West Virginia D last October, completing 10 of 13 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns.
 
As for K-State quarterbacks, here is what they have combined to do against West Virginia’s defense the last two years - 38 of 44 for 624 yards and seven touchdowns through the air with 116 yards and four more scores on the ground. Ouch.
 
- Morning coffee makes me think fast and type sloooooowwwwwww, for some reason …
 
- Earlier this month, former West Virginia University football standouts Bob Gresham and Oscar Patrick were inducted into the McDowell County Hall of Fame.
 
Both played at Big Creek High in the late 1960s, and both were coveted grid prospects that chose to stay in-state and play for the Mountaineers. Gresham ran for 1,155 yards and scored nine touchdowns as a junior in 1969, helping the Mountaineers to a 10-1 record and a Peach Bowl victory over South Carolina. He spent six seasons in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers and the New York Jets.
 
Patrick became the first receiver in school history to catch 50 passes in a season, snaring 50 of them for 770 yards and five touchdowns as a junior in 1968. His senior season (and a future professional career) was cut short by a serious knee injury.
 
The last I heard, Gresham was living in Charlotte, N.C., and Patrick was living in San Diego, Calif.
 
Congratulations to both!
 
- West Virginia junior safety Karl Joseph was one of 42 college players named to the Lott Impact Trophy Watch List released earlier today.
 
Joseph earned all-Big 12 honorable mention honors in 2013 after compiling 104 tackles, seven tackles for losses, a sack, two interceptions and six pass breakups. In two seasons, the Orlando, Fla., resident shows 172 tackles, 10 tackles for losses, three picks and 10 pass breakups.
 
I have a sneaking suspicion that Joseph is going to have another big year in Tony Gibson’s remodeled Mountaineer defense in 2014.
 
- Congratulations to veteran WVU women’s track and cross country coach Sean Cleary and his wife Heather on the recent birth of their son, Patrick Nolan Cleary. This is their first child.
 
- Cleary has had great success through the years taking high school half-milers and milers and finding the right event for them in college. Well, it looks like Dr. Cleary has come out of his laboratory with another impressive creation.
 
Former high school miler Sarah Martinelli from Morgantown has an excellent shot of achieving a top-3 finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at this weekend’s Big 12 championships in Lubbock, Texas.
 
Martinelli’s time of 10:17.38 she ran earlier this year at the Stanford Invitational is currently the third fastest in the Big 12, and is also the 15th fastest in the East, putting her right on the cutoff for NCAA nationals. Martinelli says she has only run the steeplechase five times competitively since taking it up. Her sixth race will come this weekend.
 
Baylor’s Rachel Johnson is the event favorite with a top time of 9:49.31, which was also produced at the same race in Stanford where Martinelli got her top time.
 
- I was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Frank Morelli, a backup offensive lineman on West Virginia’s 1989 Fiesta Bowl team. Morelli, 46, was a South Fayette Township, Pa., school board member and a pharmaceutical salesman at the time of his sudden death at a sales conference in Richmond, Va.
 
He is survived by his wife, Heather, and children A.J., Frankie and Bella.
 
- One topic that Bob Huggins touched on at the end of last Saturday’s morning news conference was the state of the WVU Coliseum. The arena has held up well for 44 years but it is still 44 years old, with 44-year-old amenities and a parking situation that was bad when it opened and has since only gotten progressively worse.
 
Something Huggins pointed out when he was a WVU player in the 1970s that I failed to consider was the fact that parking used to be available in the empty field between Hawley Field and the WVU Natatorium where the Shell Building now sits. Of course, that space is no longer available.
 
I know updating the Coliseum fan experience is something WVU Director of Athletics Oliver Luck is eager to address.
 
Speaking of facilities, since last month when West Virginia announced its $106 million plan to update some of its athletic facilities, Iowa State unveiled plans to boost Jack Trice Stadium’s seating capacity to 61,000 by enclosing the south end zone at a cost of $61 million; Kansas State is spending another $65 million in phase three of its football stadium master plan and Oklahoma and Texas are on the verge of announcing major updates to its football stadiums.
 
Such is life in the Big 12 these days.
 
- Baseball has a key three-game series starting tonight at 37-16 Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are in fourth place in the Big 12 standings with an 11-10 record and are coming off an 18-3 midweek win over Dallas Baptist.
 
Like West Virginia, the Red Raiders are looking to snap a three-game losing streak in conference play; Texas Tech was swept at Kansas earlier this month and was idle last weekend.
 
Despite its four-game losing streak and 27-21 overall record, West Virginia’s RPI, according to Boyd’s World, remains very good at 28. Still, I am of the opinion that the Mountaineers are going to need to find a way to win at least three more games before next Sunday when the NCAA selection committee picks this year’s tournament field. Getting a couple wins in Lubbock would certainly be very beneficial to the cause.
 
Right now, I would venture to guess the Big 12 has a good shot of getting six teams into this year’s NCAA tournament, with West Virginia being the sixth team to make it.
 
Keep in mind, though, that West Virginia has never earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in its history.
 
- Don’t ever underestimate the value of sleeping on a good pillow 1.) for a good night’s sleep and 2.) for making abrupt right turns.
 
- And finally, the Mountaineer Athletic Club is not only outstanding at raising money for the athletic department, but it also has some exceptional golfers such as Tyler Wilson, who bagged his first hole-in-one recently during a baseball alumni outing at Lakeview Resort.
 
Tyler used a five-iron to knock it in from 185 yards out on the par-three No. 12 for the rare one-stroke eagle.
 
Perhaps there is another hole-in-one in store for someone out there this weekend. Let me know if you get one!
 
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your week!
 
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