Wednesday, August 21, 2013

10 Days Away from Mountaineer Football

Today, I will be doing something a little different. Everybody is excited for Mountaineer Football being 10 days away. Why not make a few lists as the season nears closer?

The Top 10 Forgotten Soldiers of WVU Football (players who once had promise but fizzled out rather quickly or left the team)

Before I begin, let me note that there are no players before 2000. Let's face it. WVU football from 1998-2001 was not very good, therefore there are few promising players that are memorable. Anyway let's begin.

10. Mark Rodgers: A running back from California, this guy was touted as a speedster that would compliment Jock Sanders and Noel Devine pretty nicely. Unfortunately, Rodgers had the field vision of a Saturday night at Crockett's. Wearing #23, his go-to move was returning kick-offs into his own blockers, opposed to open space. 

9. Pernell Williams: His freshman year, he showed so much promise backing up Kay-Jay Harris and Jason Colson (mostly mop-up duty). He had a couple TDs against Rutgers and Temple that gave Mountaineer fans a glimpse of the future. Himself, another player on this list, and Jason Colson, were set for a 3-running back attack in 2005. Unfortunately for Pernell, but fortunately for WVU fans, Steve Slaton came on the scene and took over.

8. Jordan Roberts: This one is a bit sensitive, considering he was the Kennedy Award winner and had a great spring game at WVU. To this day, fans will talk about Jordan with spite. Personally, he just wasn't better than the running backs on the roster ahead of him. Some of you believe he didn't get a fair chance to play or show the coaches what he could do. Who knows? Maybe if he stuck around, he could have produced. Anyway, he had an extremely productive Division II career and is currently on the Kansas City Chiefs roster as of today.

7. Evan Rodriguez: No, this one never produced any statistics. However, his recruiting film was impressive and he was on campus briefly. After an altercation, he left the team and enrolled at Temple where he switched to tight end. He was drafted in the 4th round by the bears, but is currently taking first-team reps in camp with the Miami Dolphins.

6. Barry Brunetti: In 2009, WVU got their second consecutive Elite 11 quarterback commit (traditionally, the ESPN RISE Elite 11 is a list of the top 12 high school senior QB's in the country). However, he sat behind Geno Smith collecting dust on his shoulder pads. Honestly, he was not that good to warrant a competition. He did not show any flashes of potential, and Geno was never going to lose the job. He was best known for screaming like an idiot in the MountainLair. No one really blamed him for transferring to Ole Miss (instead of taking the Jarrett Brown route and being a back up for 3 years). In fact, he was slated to start in 2011 against BYU after the quarterback in front of him was arrested. He had an underwhelming first half and was pulled in the second quarter. He is still a back-up and received a drug-related misdemeanor this summer. You do you Barry.

5a., 5b. The Roberts Twins (Vance and Vernard): Vance, a 4 star cornerback, and Vernard, a 3 star running back, were two of the biggest recruiting pick-ups for WVU in 2011. WVU was thin at running back, and Vernard actually saw significant playing time as a freshman, including a TD at Maryland. These two, along with Trey Johnson, left the team that year as WVU won the Big East and Orange Bowl. We probably could have used Vance these past couple of years as he is having a somewhat successful junior college career.

4. Brandon Barrett: If you take a look at the Rivals top 100 recruits from 2004, you will see Brandon Barrett, wide receiver from Martinsburg, at #45. Notice the players in front of him. He was 8 spots behind Calvin Johnson and 17 behind Marshawn Lynch. After failing to qualify his freshman year and failing to stay in shape his sophomore year, Brandon came back his junior year in a good position. He had one of the more memorable spring games in WVU's recent history and looked to be a potential contributor to WVU's National Championship campaign for 2006. Unfortunately, he wasn't and left Mountaineer fans asking, "What if?"

3. Gino Gradkowski: When Gino Gradkowski, an offensive lineman from Pittsburgh, chose WVU over Pitt, he was an instant favorite to Mountaineer fans. Gradkowski was rated a 4-star by for the class of 2007. He redshirted his freshman year, but saw limited action the following year. In the spring, he went the way of Joe Flacco. He transferred to Delaware, became a star at the FCS level, and was drafted by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. Currently, he is fighting for the starting center position for Baltimore. WVU really missed out on this gem.

2. Quinton Andrews: This one still frustrates me. Quinton was an absolute monster. Basically, he was a Jahmile Addae clone. He could do it all. He was second on the team in tackles his freshman year (led in interceptions with 5), fifth his sophomore year (led in pass break-ups), and second his junior year. Quinton always had off-the-field issues though. He hit Pat White in spring practice when it wasn't allowed. Andrews was arrested in 2007 and dismissed from the team his senior year and enrolled at North Alabama for Terry Bowden. To this day, it bothers me how good he could have been with the right guidance.

1. Jason Gwaltney: Yeah, everybody knows the story here. A 5-star running back out of New York, Gwaltney was supposed to skyrocket the WVU program when he chose the mountaineers over USC on ESPN. The WVU faithful saw multiple Heisman Trophies in his future when Jason committed to the Mountaineers. In the fall, Gwaltney had 2 touchdowns against Maryland. However, Jason had more issues than we knew at the time. Jason was injury prone. He had academic and attitude issues. He couldn't keep his weight down and was just flat out lazy. He was arrested this February as he tried to make a run at the NFL and remains one of the biggest recruiting busts of all time. Jason Gwaltney and Jonathan Hargett would probably be pretty good friends.

Do you disagree or have any others you believe should have been on here? I don't want to hear about it so don't send me an email.