Written by Bryan Messerly
A native of Porter, Ala., who grew up in Yukon, W.Va., Bob Gresham was a three-year letterman and starting running back on the football team from 1968-70.
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He set the school’s single-season rushing record of 1,155 yards in 1969, a record that stood for 24 years. Gresham helped the Mountaineers to a 25-7 record, which included the 1969 Peach Bowl Championship.
For his Mountaineer career, he rushed for 2,181 yards on 417 carries with 18 touchdowns. At the time, his career rushing totals were a WVU record. Gresham also tallied nine 100-yard rushing performances, none better than his 173 yards on 33 carries in WVU’s 33-21 home victory over Richmond on Nov. 15, 1969. He also recorded 30 career receptions for 340 yards and three touchdowns, tallied 12 punt returns for 103 yards and amassed 588 kickoff return yards on 23 attempts. He currently ranks 10th all-time on WVU’s career rushing and rushing touchdowns lists.
Gresham was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the eighth round of the 1971 National Football League (NFL) draft. He played six seasons with three different NFL teams: Saints, Houston Oilers and New York Jets. As a pro, he started as a rookie and shared the Saints’ outstanding rookie award in 1971, leading the team in rushing with 383 yards and six touchdowns. He also led the team with 381 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 1972. As a Saint, he earned four offensive player of the week honors.
Gresham joined the Oilers in 1973 and led the team in rushing with 400 yards and two touchdowns. He joined the Jets in 1975 and ran for 190 yards over two seasons, sharing the same backfield with Joe Namath. For his NFL career, Gresham played in 75 contests, recording 1,360 yards and 12 touchdowns. Upon his retirement from the NFL, Gresham became an assistant football coach/teaching assistant at Garinger High in Charlotte, N.C., for two years from 1977-78.
Since 1978, he has served as the recreation center director/facility manager for the Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation Department in Charlotte. He has also been involved in numerous community service initiatives such as Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Right Moves for Youth Program, to name a few.
Gresham earned his bachelor’s of science degree in physical education from WVU in 1972. He has been married to Joyce Sloan Gresham for 36 years, and the couple has three children: Robert Gresham Jr., Lakeisha Gresham Githae and Jerrick Gresham. The couple also has three grandchildren: Robert Gresham III, McKenna Gresham and Brayden Githae.