In the end, sports is nothing but a numbers game, especially when comes to uniforms.
An athlete often becomes attached to and identified by his uniform number. He will wear jewelry with the number, tattoos with the number.
At West Virginia, No. 44 is Jerry West.
At Syracuse, though, it is Jim Brown and Ernie Davis and Floyd Little.
Some players are superstitious, don’t want No. 13. Some demand it. Some go bad and want to change their numbers, as if it were the uniform’s fault. Players that are going good will fight you not to change it.
In professional sports, some players even sell their number to a teammate if he wants it.
At West Virginia, numbers often tell a story and here are those stories in the three major sports — football and men’s and women’s basketball … the best players to wear each number.
00 – Marcus Goree. Even though he was Double-0, you could always count on him.
0 – As popular as this number has become in sports, it is amazing that no one ever wore it for WVU.
1 – Da’Sean Butler. This has to be the next number retired by WVU … Da’Sean Butler being No. 1 in everyone’s heart as his career ended in so much pain. It’s a close call with Joe Stydahar, who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also – Jerry Porter, Grantis Bell, K.J. Harris, Vann Washington and Joe Stydahar.
2 – Rasheed Marshall. The day may come when this switches to Robert Sands if the safety continues down the path he has begun, but Rasheed Marshall was a Big East Offensive Player of the Year. Also - Robert Sands, Darius Reynard, Charles Emanuel and Dan Kendra.
3 – Quincy Wilson. If Devin Ebanks had stayed he might have moved Quincy Wilson out, but he could never erase the memory of his catch and run for a touchdown in a classic game at Miami. Also – Devin Ebanks, Paul Woodside, Matt Taffoni, Christie Lambert and Alvoid Mays.
4 – Rosemary Kosiorek. She’s in the WVU Hall of Fame as the only All-American in WVU women’s history, having scored more than 2,000 points, which puts her second all-time in career scoring.. Also – Meg Bulger, Steve Berger, Shorty Hicks and Steve Grant.%
5 – Patrick White. Here’s a suggestion: Retire both Da’Sean Butler and Patrick White’s jersey at the same time. NOTE: No one else is listed as No. 5 because Patrick White was the man.
6 – Grant Wiley. Amazingly, this wasn’t really a number that produced a lot of great players. Wiley’s No. 6 jersey was at its best on the goal line at Virginia Tech. Also – David Sanders.
7 – Noel Devine. If this year goes as expected, Devine could become one of WVU’s all-time greats. His number should be remembered just because he decided to return as a senior. Also – Floyd (Scotty) Hamilton.
8 – Danny Buggs. You want numbers? How about Danny Buggs, a wide receiver, carrying the ball four times against Syracuse in 1972 and rushing for 159 yards, which was more yardage than he ever gained in a game catching passes. That year Buggs averaged more than 20 yards every time he touched the ball. Also - Leland Byrd, Chad Johnston and Trusty Tallman.
9 – Major Harris. Like Patrick White, why bother listing anyone else who wore this number? Already in the Hall of Fame, his run against Penn State is a West Virginia classic that all should see.
10 – Marc Bulger and Steve Slaton. Pretty tough call here as both are all-time greats, Bulger the most prolific passer in school history, Slaton among the greatest runners. Probably would lean to Bulger because he played his whole career at WVU while Slaton left early for the pros. Jay Jacobs, by the way, is on this list as an announcer, not a player. Also - Liz Repella, Ken Juskowich and Jay Jacobs.
11 – Georgeanne Wells and Joe Alexander. No. 11 is West Virginia’s highest flying number. Wells, of course, made history when she became the first woman to dunk a basketball in an NCAA game. Alexander had the most stunning dunk in WVU history as he waited for Syracuse’s Stanley Robinson, then stuffed him. Good supporting cast at this number. Also – Lowes Moore, Fred Wyant and Ed Pastilong.
12 – Oliver Luck. We’d have retired his number if he had sent his son, now quarterbacking Stanford, to WVU, to say nothing of the fact that Luck will be the next athletic director. Also – Yolanda Paige, Rudic Baric, Bernie Galifa.
13 – Mike Vanderjagt. Recruited out of Canada as a punter, he became the most accurate placekicker in NFL history when he retired. He took a strange route to WVU, via Michigan State and junior college.
14 – Wil Robinson. This man was never lost in space; he could fly. One of WVU’s great scorers on the basketball court. Also – Darris Nichols, Ronnie Retton, Darren Studstill, Mike Sherwood and Tony Robertson.
15 – Jeff Hostetler. Penn State’s gift to West Virginia. One of the smartest athletes ever, especially marrying the coach’s daughter. A Super Bowl hero with the New York Giants. Also – James Jett and Olivia Bradley.
16 – Todd Sauerbrun. A free spirit who came in as placekicker and left as one of the greatest punters in the history of college football. Just finished up a long NFL career. Had a record-setting 90-yard punt against Nebraska. Also – Shawn Foreman and Jarrett Brown.
17 – Jake Kelchner. They called this quarterback “Jake the Snake”, in the most loving way as he helped WVU to a unbeaten regular season as he shared time with Darren Studstill.
18 – Jay Kearney. One of the really fine receivers on the 1993 unbeaten Mountaineers who caught 29 passes, five for touchdowns.
19 – Lance Frazier. His real name was Elance Frazier and he became one of the most versatile corners in WVU history. He went undrafted but became an NFL player via free agency and still plays in Canada. Also - Vaughn Rivers.
20 – Amos Zereoue. This choice is closer than it looks. Both great athletes, neither was at WVU for four years but Zereoue’s debut with a 69-yard TD run against Pitt on his first carry puts him over the top. Also - Mike Gansey.
21 – Ira Errett Rodgers. Talk about a close call, but Rodgers was the greatest all-around athlete ever at WVU, a coach and one of the great gentlemen of the sporting world. It’s hard to overlook Fritz Williams here, who integrated the Southern Conference in the 1960s. Also Cathy Parson, Christie Ammon, Joe Mazzulla and Jimmy Gary.
22 – Avon Cobourne. A lot of great players here but Cobourne is the all-time rushing leader at WVU and that stands for a lot. Catlett, of course, became the longest running basketball coach at WVU after being a tough role player for the Mountaineer basketball team. Bo Orlando and Tom Pridemore went on to successful professional careers. Also – Alex Ruoff, Bo Orlando, Tom Pridemore and Gale Catlett.
23 - Mike Logan. How do you not give this to Jarrod West, whose shot beat Bob Huggins’ Cincinnati team in the NCAA Tournament. The only way is that Mike Logan was one of the greatest cornerbacks ever to play at the school. Also - Jarrod West and Chris Brooks.
24 – Artie Owens. A track star who ran a 9.6 100, Owens rushed for a since broken WVU record 2,648 yards in the 1970s and threw in a 95-yard kickoff return, third longest in school history. Also – Damian Owens, Darryl Prue, Lester Rowe and Lloyd Sharrar.
25 – Seldon Jefferson. A captain of the 1997 basketball team, Jefferson was an underrated player who surpassed 1,000 career points with 386 assists in only three years. Also – Mike Collins.
26 – Rashaan Vanterpool. A great all-purpose receiver for Don Nehlen who caught the ball and was hard to catch on reverses.
27 – Jerry Holmes. This cornerback came out of junior college to play two years under Frank Cignetti before putting in a 10-year professional career. Became a coach and was an assistant at WVU. Also - Rick Sherrod.
28 – A.B. Brown. Pitt’s gift to WVU as a transfer along with Eugene Napoleon. He gained 100 yards in his last game for Pitt, against WVU, then helped the Mountaineers to an undefeated 1988 season as the leading rusher. Also – Nate Terry and Steve Newberry.
29 – Rico Tyler. A fullback from Pittsburgh who gained nearly 1,000 yards in his career and was a member of the 1988 unbeaten team.
30 – Fred Schaus. No one did more at WVU as a player, coach and administrator than Schaus, who was a third team All-American and played in the first-even NBA All-Star game in 1951. Also – J.T. Thomas II, Bucky Bolyard, Fred Schaus, David Mayfield and Freddie Smalls.
31 – Robert Alexander and Mark Workman. A Parade All-American out of Charleston who was recruited by the governor to stay in West Virginia, Alexander rushed for 1,065 yards as a senior and played a couple of years as a professional. Workman was an All-American at WVU and the first player taken in the 1952 NBA draft after the territorial picks were made. Also – Alexis Basil, Junius Lewis and Dick Leftridge.
32 – Aaron Beasley. Probably the best cornerback ever to play at WVU, Beasley holds the record for interceptions with 10 in the 1994 season as he led the nation. He had three in a game against Virginia Tech. Had a long, successful NFL career and is in the WVU Athletic Hall of Fame. Also – Herbie Brooks, Willie Akers, Garrett Ford Sr. and Kerry Marbury.
33 – Hot Rod Hundley. The number is retired for Hundley, The Clown Prince of WVU basketball, and at the retirement ceremony following his graduation from college five decades later, he hit a hook shot. They don’t make them like him anymore. Also – Bob Gresham, Barrett Green, Russell Todd and Eugene Napoleon.
34 – Kevin Pittsnogle. One of the great fan favorites ever at the school and something of a national phenomena, he was a 7-footer who shot from the outside. He made basketball fun again at WVU. Also – Joe Marconi and Undra Johnson.
35 – Bob Huggins, Owen Schmitt and Adrian Murrell. How do you pick one? All were fan favorites. Huggins was a team captain and a tough guy who became one of the great coaches in the game. Schmitt was known for breaking facemasks as Rich Rodriguez’s offensive enforcer. Murrell was one of the greatest running backs and a solid professional.
36 – Ron Wolfley. A running back in Don Nehlen’s early days at WVU, Wolfley shared the duties for a couple of years before becoming a full-time starter as a senior. Had a solid NFL career, then became a broadcaster. He is the only player in St. Louis to have played for both the Cardinals and the Rams.
37 – Scott Kozlowski. A wonderful punter who just finished his eligibility and is expecting a chance to play in the NFL. Also – Terry Bowden and Van Richardson.
38 - K.C. Schiller. Schiller was a linebacker out of New Jersey who recorded 82 tackles during a four-year career.
39 – Chris Peccon. One of those Don Nehlen fullbacks who could block, run and catch in the 1980s. Rushed for 382 career yards, mostly in short yardage situations.
40 – Pat McAfee. Wow! Quite a group. McAfee wins out because he was such a free spirit and hit some huge kicks, although Bitancurt’s field goal to beat Pitt is a WVU classic moment. D’or Fischer was the school’s best shot blocker, Wes Ours among the most popular players ever, Warren Baker a solid big man who is the only player to lead the Mountaineers in rebounding all four years and is still impacting the community and Fulton Walker a Super Bowl hero.
41 – David Lockwood. A talented cornerback on the unbeaten 1988 team that lost to Notre Dame in a game for the National Championship in the Fiesta Bowl, Lockwood is today the cornerback coach for the Mountaineers. Also – Chris Edmonds, Eric Wicks, Calvin Bowman, J.T. Thomas.
42 – Canute Curtis. There were others who wore this number who were great but Curtis became one of the school’s all-time defenders, a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award and Bronko Nagurski Award after setting a school record with 16.5 sacks in 1996. When your nickname is “The Amityville Horror”, you know you are a scary dude. Also – Kate Bulger and Talisha Hargis.
43 – Robert Walker. One of the great running backs in WVU history, Walker preserved the 1993 unbeaten season with a touchdown run against Miami before a record crowd of 70,222 fans at Mountaineer Field. He rushed for 1,250 yards that year with 11 touchdowns. Also – Kevin “Boo” McLee.
44 – Jerry West. There were others who wore 44, but it was Jerry West who made it have as much meaning in West Virginia as it has at Syracuse. He went on to become one of the all-time NBA greats and “The Logo”. Also – Rod Thorn, Jim Braxton, Mortty Ivy and Tim Agee.
45 – Olayanka Sanni. One of the best centers to play women’s basketball at WVU, Sanni went on to play professionally with the Detroit Shock. Sanni was an honorable mention AP All-American. Also – Brent Solheim, Phil Wilson and Maurice Robinson.
46 – Walter Easley. A fullback who blossomed in Don Nehlen’s first year as coach, gaining 883 yards with eight touchdowns, Easley was a backup fullback on the 1981 Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers. Also -Kantroy Barber.
47 – Reed Williams. Reed Williams gets the nod here because of the pain he went through to play an extra year and because he was as good in the classroom as on the field, but Zac Abraham’s catch of Chad Johnston’s touchdown pass to beat Pitt in the final seconds makes his number every bit as memorable. Also Zac Abraham, Jay Taylor, Willie Edwards.
48 – Willie Drewery. Willie D. came out of New Jersey to play for Don Nehlen and became one of the best kick returners in NCAA history. He went on to have a long NFL career with Houston and Tampa Bay.
49 – Chris Haering. A linebacker on the 1988 undefeated WVU team who went on to become a top high school coach at Mt. Lebanon’s powerhouse in Pittsburgh. Also – Larry Kruto.
50 – Dennis Fowlkes. In 1982 he was “Mr. Inside” to Darryl Talley’s “Mr. Outside” at linebacker for Don Nehlen. Talley got most of the publicity while Fowlkes did the dirty work in the middle. Also - Wayne Yearwood and Dale Farley.
51 – Carl Crennel. A pioneer in integrating athletics at WVU who was the first black player Bobby Bowden ever recruited, Crennel was a three-year starter at middle guard and most valuable player in the Mountaineers 14-3 Peach Bowl victory over South Carolina in a 10-1 1969 season.
52 – Al Gluchoski. Worked his way up from the bottom of the depth chart under Bobby Bowden to become an All-East selection on the Mountaineers Peach Bowl team in the mid-1970s.
53 – Marc Magro. A tough offensive lineman who stayed home in Morgantown and became a solid contributor under Rich Rodriguez on the great Pat White-Steve Slaton teams.
54 – Scott Barrows. Originally a tight end who the Mountaineers thought would not be very good, was moved to offensive line and tutored by Don Nehlen assistant Mike Jacobs into a solid performer.
55 – Gary Stills and Steve Dunlap. A whole lot of tackles here and it’s just unfair to pick one over the other. Stills was one of the best pass rushers ever at the school and had a long professional career, while Dunlap holds the record for tackles and has been a great assistant coach.
56 – John “Doc” Holliday. Played linebacker for three years at West Virginia after coming out of Hurricane, but he made his mark as a long-time assistant coach, establishing WVU as a recruiting power in Florida. Today is the head coach at Marshall.
57 – Kevin Koken. Numbers mean something to Kevin Koken, the center on the unbeaten 1988 team. When last seen he was running marathons and was weighing about 100 pounds less than his 300-pound playing weight.
58 – Bernardo Amerson. A linebacker in the mid-1990s, Amerson was a solid player who went on to become a strength and conditioning coach. Also – Ken Sandor.
59 – Rick Gilliam. One of the biggest men ever to play at WVU, Gilliam was a crushing blocker under Don Nehlen who was as happy spending time on his farm as on the football field. Also – Damon Cogdill, Rocky Gianola and Jeff Noechel.
60 – Gene Corum. “Gentleman Gene” was a lineman as a player, then went on to coach the Mountaineers, going 29-30-2 over six years. He was a longtime administrator and was elected to the WVU Hall of Fame in 1984.
61 – Mike Fox. An unforgettable defensive tackle who played for Don Nehlen on his great 1988 team, Fox was the Gator Bowl MVP in 1989. He had a long NFL career with the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers.
62 – Ryan Stanchek and Bill Legg. This is a tough call. Stanchek was a great blocker on Rich Rodriguez’s great teams, Legg one Don Nehlen’s first recruits who became a long-time assistant coach.
63 – Ray Marshall. A linebacker who came out Pennsylvania by way of Potomac State, Marshall was the defensive MVP of the 1975 Peach Bowl. Despite playing with a broken bone in the back of his neck, he led the team with 175 tackles that season.
64 – Don Barclay. A starter on this year’s team, Barclay has the potential to become one of the better offensive linemen to have played at WVU. Also – Dale Wolfley, Donnie Young and Mike Enich.
65 – Jeremy Sheffey. An offensive lineman for Rich Rodriguez at the height of his time at WVU, Sheffey helped clear the way for Steve Slaton to gain 1,744 yards in 2006. Also - Joe Jellich.
66 – Chuck Howley. No. 66 is always a popular number and Howley made it a memorable number. Went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys and became the only player form a losing team to win the Super Bowl MVP award. Almost won that award twice. Also Roger Alford, Theron Ellis.
67 – Eric de Groh. A lot of centers are found in the mix and de Groh was one of them. One of the best students ever in the program, de Groh went into the medical field.
68 – Rick Phillips. A powerful blocker at tackle on the unbeaten 1988 team.
69 – Tom Robsock. A product of the Berwick, Pa., program, Robsock was a tough offensive guard who was captain of the 1994 team and played on the unbeaten 1993 team. Also – Garin Justice.
70 – John Ray. A giant at 6-10 and 320 pounds, Ray came out of Charleston and had a shot at a long career NFL but a knee problem did him in after two years.
71 – Kurt Kehl. Came out of Ohio in the early 1980s to play for another Ohioan who made his mark at WVU, Don Nehlen.
72 – Gene Lamone. They called him “Beef”, which tells you a lot about one of the best offensive guards ever at WVU. He was a second team AP All-American in 1953 and a third-team AP All-American in 1954.
73 – Jake Figner. When WVU was running the ball under Rich Rodriguez in the 2006-08, Figner was a 300-pounder who was opening the holes.
74 – Jim LeBlanc. LeBlanc was a 300-pound offensive lineman under Don Nehlen who played on the 1993 undefeated team.
75 – Sam Huff. He wore No. 70 and made it famous as professional but at WVU he was No. 75, a number that was among the first retired by the school.
76 – Dan Mozes. The only WVU player to win one of the top national postseason awards, Mozes switched from guard to center and took down the Rimington Trophy.
77 – Bruce Bosley. An All-American from the great teams that included Sam Huff, Bosley went on to become a long-time star in the NFL. Brian Jozwiak and Solomon Page also went on to “The League.” Also – Brian Jozwiak and Solomon Page.
78 – Rich Braham. A hometown kid from University High, Braham walked on at WVU and became one of the greatest centers in the school history and followed it with a long professional career.
79 – Dave Van Halanger. Played under Bobby Bowden, who was reluctant to recruit him but gave in to his strong desire to play at WVU. Van Halanger became a good player and has gone on to become one of the best known strength coaches in football. Also – Brian Smider and Tanner Russell.
80 – Carlos Osegueda. Somehow the No. 80 didn’t draw a strong cast of characters. Osegueda was a nice receiver out of Miami in Don Nehlen’s final years but never posted big numbers.
81 – Darrell Miller. He could go with the football, thus he was nicknamed “Coast-to-Coast” Miller. He came out of Philly to play wide receiver but a knee injury cost him an opportunity to have an even more productive career.
82 – Anthony Becht. One of the really great tight ends to play for Don Nehlen, Becht went on to play a decade in the NFL. Also – Alric Arnett.
83 – Tito Gonzales. Gonzales came out of Tampa and worked his way into the rotation under Rich Rodriguez and became a capable pass catcher and one of the best citizens the program had, speaking often to youth groups.
84 – Paul Bischoff. One of the great receivers in WVU history and a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Caught what was a school record 96 passes for Coach Art “Pappy” Lewis from 1950 to 1952. Also – Rob Bennett.
85 – Mark Raugh. A tight end who caught 64 passes in the 1981 season for Don Nehlen, Raugh played a year with the Pittsburgh Maulers in the USFL.
86 – John Pennington. Pennington was a walk-on wide receiver who wound up with two letters and as a hero with a diving touchdown catch against Pitt in 2003. Also – Bob Dunleavy, whose catch beat No. 9 Syracuse to send WVU to the 1964 Liberty Bowl .
87 – Renaldo Turnbull. One of the greatest pass rushers in WVU history, he had 12 sacks during the unbeaten 1988 season and added eight more the next year as a senior. Turnbull was a first-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints and became a Pro Bowl player.
88 – Reggie Rembert. A Christmas baby, Rembert came to WVU from junior college with 4.3 speed and put it to use catching passes from Major Harris and running reverses. Against Pitt as a senior he caught five passes for 145 yards. Rembert played with the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL. Also – Rich Hollins, Nate Stephens.
89 – Tyler Urban. A tight end who enters his junior year, Urban is a solid blocker who may increase his pass catching total this season with Geno Smith at quarterback. Also - Tim Love.
90 –Darryl Talley. “Mr. Outside” in the early 1980s, Talley is one of the greatest linebackers ever at WVU but has been overlooked by the College Football Hall of Fame. He was a great linebacker at Buffalo for many years in the NFL. Also - Jeff Merrow and Chris Nield.
91 – Bernard Russ. A rough, tough linebacker under Don Nehlen in the mid-1990s who got a shot at playing pro football after an All-Big East season in 1996. Also – John Spraggins.
92 – Johnny Dingle. Teamed with Keilen Dykes to give WVU a solid line under Rich Rodriguez in the mid-2000s. Signed but never made it in NFL. Also – Henry Slay.
93 – John Browning. One of the best defensive linemen ever to play at WVU, Browning had a long NFL career with Kansas City Chiefs. Also – Tom Briggs.
94 – Chris Parker. Played defensive tackle with the 1988 undefeated WVU team that played Notre Dame with a chance to win the national championship. He was named a second team All-American.
95 – David Upchurch. A nose guard under Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez, Upchurch went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also – Delbert Fowler.
96 – John Thornton. Not only one of the greatest defensive linemen in the school’s history, Thornton went on to become one of the better players in the NFL during a long career. Also – Keilen Dykes.
97 – Steve Perkins. In the 1994 Sugar Bowl, WVU’s undefeated team scored first against Florida and then stopped them but the game changed when Perkins was flagged for a personal foul, giving the Gators life and they went on to rout WVU, 41-7%
98 – David Grant. Came out of New Jersey to play at WVU under Don Nehlen, he was the man who replace Cincinnati Bengal Tim Krumrie when he broke his leg in Super Bowl XXIII against San Francisco. Also – Jim Gray, Kevin Landolt.
99 – Calvin Turner. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Turner came out of Fairmont to play at WVU. Converted from a linebacker to a defensive lineman, he recovered a key fumble in the final game at old Mountaineer Field against Pitt.
100 – Chuck Kinder. A punter and placekicker from St. Albans, in 1963 Kinder commemorated West Virginia’s 100th birthday by becoming the first player in college football to wear the No. jersey. In 1966, Coach Jim Carlen requested he change to jersey No. 10.
E-mail Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listing the school’s best, from No. 00 to 100
In the end, sports is nothing but a numbers game, especially when comes to uniforms.
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