MORGANTOWN — There will come a time, not in the far too distant future, when West Virginia football fans will wake up and realize that Noel Devine is no longer here, that he gave them far more than they ever thought they’d get from him, four years of thrills and chills.
And they will begin to wonder.
No Devine. No Steve Slaton, no K.J. Harris, no Quincy Wilson, no Avon Cobourne, no Amos Zereoue.
For a decade and a half WVU has had procession of dazzling, daring, darting tailbacks. Each has been capable of going the distance on any carry from anywhere on the field.
Since 1996, six of the tailback have turned in six of the top 10 rushing games in WVU history, with three of the others belonging to quarterback Patrick White. It has certainly been the era of the breakaway running back.
The question remains, though, does it end with Devine.
Tavon Austin thinks not, and he is the heir apparent.
“When Noel goes, then it’s my time,” Austin said.
Austin currently resides about as far away from tailback as you can get, splitting out wide as a receiver.
A year ago Austin got his first taste of college football as a slot receiver and a kickoff return, a very dangerous one at that, possessing one all the way to the house.
Austin is built more like a slotback, shorter and quicker, something of Jock Sanders clone.
In fact, a year ago he backed up Sanders in the slot, but there are shortages this year at wide receiver. Two players WVU hoped would be here did not show for spring — Logan Heastie and newcomer Deon Long.
Both are in school but Stewart isn’t going hat and hand and begging them to play on his team.
“Right now I’m only concerned with those who are here,” Stewart said, indicating that even if they do come out their regimine will be running stadium steps and exercising until they get into football shape.