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Musings: Five West Virginia Mountaineers we don’t hate

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This installment was hard, because we still don’t know them well enough yet.

There’s a word for what that grin has been eating.
There’s a word for what that grin has been eating.
Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Up until just a few years ago, there really wasn’t any reason for Kansas State fans to have any animosity toward anyone from West Virginia. After all, the Cats were completely dominant over the Mountaineers on the football field for the first several years of West Virginia’s membership in the Big 12, and while it was easy to hate the way their basketball team played the game, they had a lot of good players who weren’t individually offensive.

That said, the short duration of West Virginia’s history with the Wildcats still made it a bit difficult to compile today’s list. We persevered, however, and present to you the five Mountaineers we can’t hate.

5) Jevon Carter

Carter did, indeed, make life difficult for K-State. But he was incredibly fun to watch despite looking like he was Perry Ellis’s high school teammate back in 1893, and was a fantastic defender — twice named NABC Defensive Player of the Year in college. The Grizzlies drafted him in the second round in 2018, and he played there for one season; he was traded to the Suns afterward.

The real reason he’s here, though, is that he won the 2018 Senior CLASS Award. You don’t win that award if you’re a dirtbag.

4) Tavon Austin

Speaking of fun to watch... Austin was a beast. He was a threat from three positions: wide receiver, running back, and kick returner. As a senior, Austin piled up 2,911 all-purpose yards on the way to his second All-America selection. His only bad game that year wasn’t even his fault; he couldn’t be blamed for Geno Smith completely melting down against K-State in the hilarious 55-14 beatdown in Morgantown that year.

Later that season, Austin had an absolutely ridiculous outing against Oklahoma, and this video has basically every touch he had in that game.

Austin was drafted after that season eighth overall by the Rams, who also drafted his teammate Stedman Bailey in the third round. He spent three years in Saint Louis followed by two in Los Angeles, and has been a Dallas Cowboy since then, although he’s now a free agent. He’s continued to be a triple threat, and for his career has averaged 6.8 yards per carry.

3) Major Harris

You might think the trend of college coaches being numbskulls and trying to sign quarterbacks out of high school to play safety is a recent innovation. You would be wrong. Back in 1986, Mark Gottfried tried to recruit Harris, a local kid, to play for Pitt as a defensive back.

He was having none of it, so when Don Nehlen offered him a shot at quarterback, he jumped at the chance. Redshirting along with fellow recruit Browning Nagle, Harris won the job the following spring and caused Nagle to transfer to Louisville. After a decent freshman campaign, Harris did the unthinkable: he led West Virginia to a shot at the national championship. On the way, against Penn State, Harris made a big mistake: he called one play, but ran another. This was the result:

The Mountaineers finished the regular season 11-0, ranked third in the nation, and got a bid to the Fiesta Bowl against top-ranked Notre Dame.

Sadly, Harris suffered a shoulder separation on the third play of the game. He tried to play through it, but wasn’t able to throw. The Irish won 34-21, and Morgantown has been asking “What if?” ever since.

Twice, Harris finished in the top five in the Heisman Trophy race. He left school after his junior season and was drafted in the 12th round by the Raiders in 1990. But he never played a down in the NFL. Harris instead accepted a more lucrative offer from the BC Lions, backing up Doug Flutie, before moving on to the Arena Football League. With the Columbus Thunderbolts, Harris ran for 429 yards in 1991; that was an AFL record which stood for 14 years until it was broken by some guy named Michael Bishop.

Harris then bounced around in minor league football for a few years before hanging up the cleats. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

2) Pat White

Another quarterback which other teams wanted to convert, An Alabama Gulf Coast kid, White had actually committed to LSU as a wide receiver before Rich Rodriguez offered him a shot at playing under center. That was also enough to get him to pass on a six-figure deal with the then-Anaheim Angels and head on up to Morgantown.

White was the quarterback of the ill-fated 2007 Mountaineer squad which, like approximately 400 teams before them that year, blew a shot at the BCS title game with a loss to archrival Pitt. It was arguably the worst game of White’s college career, and a very sore subject.

White teamed up with Steve Slaton to form a devastating duo in the backfield, and they were true partners. White has forever been celebrated for this block he threw to turn a huge loss on a run by Slaton into positive yardage:

White was Collin Klein before Collin Klein, which probably has a lot to do with why our staff appreciated his career so much. White ran for 4,480 yards and 47 touchdowns, and passed for 6,051 and 56. Those are some wild numbers.

After his college career ended, White was named the MVP of the 2009 Senior Bowl, the top performer at the 2009 Combine, and got drafted in the second round by the Dolphins. His pro career never really got off the ground, though, and Miami waived him after one season... at which point he signed to play baseball for the Royals, so despite never advancing past the instructional league there’s another point in his favor. Nowadays, he’s the running backs coach at another school which blew it in 2007: South Florida.

1) Jerry West

He’s the freakin’ logo. Come on.

Honorable Mention:

Jeff Hostetler, Sam Huff, Bob Huggins, Pat McAfee, Morgan Phillips

Next week. we dig into the archives and try and find some decent humans who claim an old rival as their alma mater: Colorado.