By Mike Montoro for MSNsportsNET.com
January 14, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University Football Coach Bill Stewart has announced that running back Noel Devine and wide receiver Jock Sanders are returning for their senior years of eligibility.
“On behalf of the Mountaineer football family, we are excited that Noel and Jock will remain as student-athletes here for their senior years with the Old Gold and Blue,” Stewart said. “I have seen these two really mature and grow, not only on the football field, but in their quest of life. Obtaining their degrees and preparing for life after football is of utmost importance to them and to our program,
“I, along with the coaching staff and our fans, anxiously await and look forward to watching these two guys finish their senior years here at West Virginia.”
Devine, 2009 team co-offensive MVP, had his best season as a junior in 2009 as the Ft. Myers, Fla., native was a unanimous first team all-BIG EAST selection. He finished with 1,465 yards, averaged 6.1 yards per carry and had 13 touchdowns. He also finished with 22 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown. Devine was No. 2 in the BIG EAST in rushing, No. 4 in all-purpose yardage and No. 9 in total offense and scoring. Nationally, he was No.17 in rushing yards per game and No. 43 in all-purpose yards.
For his career, Devine has accumulated 3,381 rushing yards, averaged 6.5 yards per carry and has 23 touchdowns. He also has 64 catches for 452 yards and a touchdown. With him returning for the 2010 season, he is the No. 2 active career rushing leader nationally, No. 4 in yards per carry, No. 6 in all-purpose yards per play, No. 7 in all-purpose yardage and No. 8 in yards rushing per game.
The No. 5 career rushing leader in WVU history, Devine has 34 runs of 20 yards or more, 11 runs of 50 yards or more and seven runs of 70 yards or more. He has collected 14 games with 100 or more rushing yards, including six in 2009, two with more than 200 yards, including a career-high 220 yards against Colorado in 2009.
“It’s all about unfinished business on the field and in the classroom,” Devine said. “West Virginia University and my coaches are doing a great job of preparing me for the NFL and for life after football. Each year on the team has been important and each of us has given a little bit more. Now its time for my senior season with my teammates – and I want it to be a special one, so I am going to give even more. I want to be the first member of my family to finish with a college degree, and I want to bring back a championship to Morgantown. I really enjoy playing in front of the greatest fans in America, but my ultimate goal is to earn my degree.”
Sanders, also 2009 team co-offensive MVP, had his best year as a junior in 2009 as the St. Petersburg, Fla., native finished with 72 catches for 688 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran 48 times for 250 yards and two touchdowns. He has led WVU in receptions (53 as a sophomore) the past two seasons, Sanders is currently on a 28-game catch streak, dating back to his freshman year in 2007, and is ranked No. 3 in school history for most consecutive games with a catch and No. 11 in BIG EAST history.
Sanders has 137 receptions for 1,252 yards and 10 touchdowns over his career, ranking No. 5 on WVU’s career reception chart. He collected a career-high 12 catches for 115 yards at Auburn and had eight or more catches five times.
“Coming back for my senior season will not only help me gain more experience and knowledge on the football field, but most importantly like Noel, I also will be the first in my family to earn a college degree,” Sanders said. “It’s all about family here at West Virginia. There’s a group of us that came in together, played together, grew up together, bonded together and want to leave together. West Virginia football has been in national prominence since I’ve been here. We want to win a championship next season and take our program to another level.”