The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

WVU Sports

August 7, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Zereoue reflects on brother’s playing days

MORGANTOWN — It’s been 17 years ago this year, if that is possible.

Aug. 31, 1996, West Virginia University is at Pittsburgh, two plays into the season-opening Backyard Brawl.

The football is handed to No. 20, a running back breaking over tackle at the WVU 31-yard line. Not a hand is laid on him as he streaks down the sideline until he reaches the Panther 20, when a diving defender trying to trip him up swipes at his right shin.

He stumbles for a second, gathering himself to prance the rest of the way into the end zone.

One carry, one touchdown of 69 yards.

Amos Zereoue is now Famous Amos Zereoue.

Watching at home on television is a child, 5 or 6 as he recalls it now, sitting in the club area behind the end zone in Milan Puskar Stadium.

He is Maurice Zereoue, the youngest brother in the family, and you ask him about that day, about the man who is Amos, about what this man who went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL had meant to him and what it was like growing up in his shadow.

“It wasn’t hard. He’s my brother,” he said, today a walk-on member of the WVU team. “I don’t see him as everyone else sees him. You may see him as ‘Famous Amos.’ I see him as my older brother. I see him at home. He talks to me. He encourages me.

“He’s been there for me when I need help. For the most part, he allows me to find my own way. He doesn’t baby me.”

Let us go back first to Amos Zereoue’s days in Hempstead, Long Island. He had broken all the Jim Brown’s high school records, barrel-chested with muscles that turned any shirt into a small. He ran fast, he ran hard and he set his own records at WVU before leaving with a year’s eligibility left.

Maurice was 15 years his junior, and the shadow that he cast remained, although he refused to linger under it.

He would bask in his own sunshine.

As an underclassman, Maurice Zereoue bounced around on a senior-oriented team, playing more defense than offense. Then, as a senior, he was featured, but it was an inexperienced team.

He was being recruited, but soon it became apparent that his grades would keep him from playing football in college at the time.

“There was a lot of stuff going on then that was messing me up for school, and my grades didn’t come through at the end,” he said.

He wasn’t sure what direction he would take.

“At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to play football. I thought I might just want to go to school to get my grades together and stuff like that,” he said. “That was why I just went to Potomac State, a two-year school, which didn’t have football. There were no distractions.”

Maurice earned his associate’s degree and wasn’t sure which way he would go.

Amos Zereoue had offered him some advice, but never pushed him.

“We never had a conversation about me wanting him to go to West Virginia,” Amos Zereoue said last year after Maurice enrolled at WVU. “It was always his decision where he was going to go. I was just there to let him know that if he was really interested in West Virginia, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for him to go down there.”

Why did he decide to follow in his big brother’s footsteps?

“It was because when I was little I watched West Virginia play, and it became part of me,” he said.

And so he walked on as a running back.

He was put on the scout team, but it wasn’t until the third week, when he was named Scout Team Player of the Week, that WVU coach Dana Holgorsen learned the name and realized he was Amos Zereoue’s brother.

It made sense that he should earn a niche. Ask Maurice to describe Amos’ style, and he goes for “shifty ... explosive.” And ask him to describe his style and he thinks for a moment and says “shifty ... explosive.”

Now, of course, the competition at running back has become ridiculous at WVU, with Charles Sims coming over from Houston and joining Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison with Pitt transfer Rushell Shell waiting to become eligible next year when Sims leaves.

Still, Zereoue is looking to find his place, to earn a scholarship and some playing time.

As he does this he’s contributing as he can, including becoming the unofficial haircutter for the team, doing nearly half the team’s hair when he has time.

Email Bob Hertzel at or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos