Ira Errett Rodgers
Written by John Antonik
Considered one of the greatest college football players prior to World War II, Rodgers is also recognized by many as the school's greatest all-round athlete of the first half century.
Born and raised in Bethany, W.Va., Rodgers played football as a high school student at Bethany College - there were no high schools in the area for him to attend. By the time he wound up his career at Bethany, numerous colleges tried to recruit him, including football powers Pitt and Washington & Jefferson.
Mountaineer coach Mont McIntyre won out for the services of Rodgers, however, and thus the Mountaineer legend began. In his first game at WVU, Rodgers started at quarterback. Later in the season, he was moved to fullback where he starred for the next three seasons.
A hard-driving fullback, Rodgers was piling up awards faster than he could score touchdowns. West Virginia's first 200-yard rusher, Rodgers still holds school records for the most touchdowns in a game (5), season (19) and career (42). The versatile Rodgers also threw 24 touchdown passes as well.
In 1919, Rodgers amassed the single greatest season of any player in school history. During the year in which women were first allowed the right to vote, Rodgers led the nation in scoring with 147 points on 19 touchdowns and 33 extra-point kicks. He also threw 11 touchdown passes - a rare high for that era and a WVU record until 1949.
For his exploits, Rodgers was WVU's first consensus All-America selection. Throughout the years, his play has drawn praise from all corners of the sports world.
"There was no greater all-round football player in the land," said national syndicated columnist Grantland Rice late in 1919 about Rodgers.
Princeton coach Bill Roper after a 25-0 loss at the hands of the Mountaineers, echoed Rice's sentiments.
"I have never seen Rodgers equaled to as a forward passer for accuracy and distance, and he is equal to Ted Coy of Yale (three-time All-America) as a runner."
Elected captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams as a senior, Rodgers moved on to coach the Mountaineers in football, baseball and golf. He compiled a 41-31-8 mark as a football coach and a 204-208-3 mark as a baseball coach.
Able to excel in just about anything, Rodgers won the West Virginia Amateur golf tournament at White Sulphur Springs only one year after he was persuaded to take up the game.
A 1920 graduate with a degree in chemistry, Rodgers was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1953. Rodgers died February 22, 1963.