The Times West Virginian

Sports

June 14, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Compton fifth of WVU’s 11 consensus All-Americans

MORGANTOWN — Mike Compton, who was the fifth in West Virginia University’s line of 11 consensus All-America football players, starred on the teams of 1989-90-91-92.

A 6-foot-7, 280-to-295-pound center, he not only excelled on the offensive line, but he was a team captain as a senior.

Compton not only made seven All-America first teams (The Sporting News, Playboy, Football News, Kodak, Walter Camp, The Associated Press and UPI) but he also was a two-time Academic All-America selection in 1991-92.

Since January 2013, Compton has been working as offensive line coach at Fairmont State University. He has a son who may enroll there as a freshman this fall.

Compton, now 42, earned a WVU degree in physical education with honors. He made the All-Big East first teams in that conference’s first two years of existence.

A finalist for the prestigious Lombardi Award, he played in the Blue-Gray and Hula Bowl all-star games before graduating.

The Richlands, Va., native won the NCAA Big Six award for his achievements both on the field and for services in the community. As a result, he was selected to speak to the 1993 NCAA Convention at Dallas representing all student-athletes.

“I certainly enjoyed playing football at WVU and also getting a good education,” Compton said. “And it was a great honor to be chosen by the NCAA to speak on behalf of all student-athletes.

“I have always taken pride in what I did academically during my years at the university. I was proud to be there four years academically and athletically.

“I had a great time in Morgantown.”

Asked how it was playing football for Don Nehlen, Compton replied:

“Coach Nehlen was probably the biggest reason I came to West Virginia. He’s a great man, and he gave me the opportunity to get a college education. I learned a lot about football from him and (line coach) Mike Jacobs.”

Coach Nehlen called Compton “a peach of a guy, maybe the best center on any of my teams.” Nehlen retired after 21 years in 2000.

Compton was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

After graduating with a degree in physical education, Compton was a third-round NFL draft choice by the Detroit Lions. He played stints at tackle and guard as well as center during his 12 years as a professional.

After playing eight years with the Lions, Compton served three seasons with New England (2001-03) and earned two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.

He retired in August 2005 after a year with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I loved every minute I played in the NFL,” he said. “I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done.”

Since then, he has been coaching and teaching at both the high school and college levels.

That part of his career started at Tazewell (Va.) High for a year and a half. Then he became a head coach at Patrick Henry High in Virginia for two years.

His next stop was at Bluefield (Va.) College as offensive line coach for two years. Finally, it was the same role at Fairmont State University.

Mike and his wife Letanya have three children. Those are Jessica, 23; Josh, 18; and Sarah, 16.

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