MORGANTOWN — Figures.
One of the most intriguing recruits West Virginia University coach Bill Stewart pulled in among is 2009 football recruiting class was Branko Busick, a hard-hitting linebacker from Steubenville.
What made Busick so intriguing, however, is his bloodline, for he is the son of former professional wrestler Nick “Big Bully” Busick, one of the most entertaining villains ever to set foot in the World Wrestling Federation ring.
Well, the younger Busick followed in his father’s singlet and combined wrestling with football at Steubenville, and he has decided to do the same at WVU.
In a surprise announcement, Busick was listed among the five recruits coach Craig Turnbull landed this year.
“Branko Busick is coming in with football, but he has a tremendous love and passion for the sport of wrestling,” Turnbull commented in the press release. “He is going to try to blend both sports, and he has been given the blessing from Coach Stewart, which is much appreciated. When he gets the benefit of coming into our program and working with the athletes in here, we think his ceiling is unlimited as well.”
Stewart has said that he would not stand in the way of his football players playing other sports if he felt it would help them and not hurt the program. Two years ago he allowed then-backup quarterback Jarrett Brown to play guard on Bob Huggins’ basketball team and said he would not have stood in the way of quarterback Patrick White playing baseball if he so desired.
A native of Weirton, Busick is a two-time district and sectional champion under coach Mike Blackburn at Steubenville High. He has placed twice at nationals, finishing third and fifth, and earned as high as third place in the Ohio state tournament.
Busick’s senior year he posted a 45-1 record while finishing sixth in the state tournament. He finished his high school career with a 153-21 record.
Busick’s father, who currently is head of security at Mountaineer Race Track and Casino and is a former police officer in Georgia and West Virginia, joined the WWA after competing in Georgia All-Star Wrestling and the Global Wrestling Federation.
He would enter the ring wearing a derby, with a big cigar, and a bushy handlebar mustache.
Busick and his manager Harvey Wippleman would antagonize ringside fans, including popping a child’s balloon with his lit cigar. He and ring announcer Mike McGuirk got into it at one point.
The younger Busick’s goal is to make the NFL, but he believes he can fall back on a career in mixed martial arts.
“MMA and football are honestly a lot alike, especially at the linebacker position,” Busick told the Charleston Daily Mail after signing with WVU football. “You’ve got to be aggressive to do them both. You can’t try to take someone’s head off on the football field, but you can’t be soft and play linebacker. It’s a perfect fit for so many reasons.”
Busick joins four other recruits in Turnbull’s class – Cameron Gallaher, a Class AA champion at three different weight classes from Grafton; Nathan Pennessi of Latrobe, Pa., whose father wrestled at WVU; Brandon Loro of Springfield, Pa.; and Brandon Williamson, the 2008 national junior college champion at heavyweight.
Gallaher was a three-sport star at Grafton – wrestling, football and baseball – and made All-State in all three. He led the football team to the Class AA championship as a senior while also being a member of the National Honor Society.
“Cameron Gallaher is intriguing. He comes in with outstanding character references,” Turnbull said. “He is a 3.6-3.7 student and he was all-state in three sports. The intriguing thing about Cameron is that he has wrestled only two months a year because he has been a committed football and baseball player. He has not wrestled out of state very much at all and we really believe with his character, athleticism and his commitment to excel, that when we get him in a good program and on a good schedule, he has a very high ceiling and becoming a national champion should be a very realistic goal for him.”
As a sophomore, he was crowned the 152-pound state champ and followed that with a title at 171 pounds and then at 189 pounds. This year, he was named the AA-A Outstanding Wrestler of the Year at 189 pounds. Also, he has won the Viking Smash and the Tri-State tournaments all four years of high school. Most recently, he was named the Outstanding Wrestler for West Virginia at the Dapper Dan Classic after he defeated Shadyside’s Roman SanDoval, a two-time WPIAL Class AA and PIAA champion.
Career-wise in football, he rushed for 1,016 yards with 20 touchdowns and threw for 1,823 yards and 25 scores. He was named first-team All-State, while being named the Dominion-Post Player of the Year and earning a spot on the Times West Virginian’s All-Mon Valley Team.
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MORGANTOWN — Figures.
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