News, Notes & Rumors – June 11
Collin Smith, a freshman safety at WVU, has reportedly decided to transfer elsewhere.
An all-state quarterback and defensive back at Ligonier Valley (Pa.) High School, he arrived at West Virginia last summer as a true freshman but saw very little practice time that fall or in the spring as he recovered from shoulder surgery. Now he apparently has decided to seek playing time at another school.
Smith is the 16th scholarship underclassman to leave the Mountaineer football season since the end of the 2017 season. Also on that list of player with eligibility remaining who left WVU were quarterbacks Chris Chugunov and David Isreal, wide receivers Ricky Rogers and Reggie Roberson, offensive linemen Ray Raulerson and Alec Shriner, defensive linemen Jaleel Fields, Jalen Harvey, Lamonte McDougle and Adam Shuler, defensive backs Jacquez Adams, Jordan Adams, Fontez Davis and Kevin Williams, and punter Jonn Young.
There is a rumor that one of those who had previously decided to leave may be having second thoughts and could be back on the WVU roster this fall.
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One of those who has departed West Virginia revealed his new home on Monday. Adam Shuler announced via twitter that he was transferring to the University of Florida. Having obtained his bachelor’s degree from WVU, Shuler qualifies as a graduate transfer and thus will be eligible to play for the Gators this fall. He’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
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The College Football Hall of Fame recently released its ballot of contenders for the 2019 class.
There are 76 players and six coaches from FBS schools, and another 100 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions.
No former Mountaineer players who finished their career at West Virginia are candidates for next year’s class of the Hall of Fame, though former WVU coach Jim Carlen has earned a spot on the ballot for the second straight year.
Carlen became West Virginia’s head coach in 1966 after a successful stint as an assistant for legendary Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech. In his four seasons in Morgantown, Carlen led the Mountaineers to a 25-13-3 record, culminating in a 14-3 Peach Bowl over South Carolina in 1969. Carlen left WVU after that Peach Bowl victory to become the head coach at Texas Tech, staying five years with the Red Raiders, where he posted a 37-30-2 record. In 1975, he departed Lubbock to take over at South Carolina, starting a seven-year stint with the Gamecocks (45-36-1) that included coaching 1980 Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers. Carlen retired from coaching in 1985 and eventually settled on Hilton Head Island, where he passed away in 2012.
No player who finished his career at WVU is on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, but there is one who began his career with the Mountaineers. Chris George has been on the ballot multiple times in recent years, and that ballot always lists his college as Glenville. Certainly that’s accurate, but it’s not where George’s college career began. A native of Clarksburg, George came to West Virginia University in 1990 as a walk-on. But after redshirting in his one season at WVU, he was lured to Glenville State by the Pioneers’ new head coach Rich Rodriguez. Over the next four years, George shattered many college football receiving records, hauling in 389 receptions while at GSC for 5,546 yards and 55 touchdowns. Following stops in the NFL and CFL, George settled back in Clarksburg along with his wife Alicia and their three children.
There are seven others with ties to Big 12 schools who are on this year’s College Football Hall of Fame Ballot. There are: Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop, Oklahoma defensive back Rickey Dixon, Oklahoma State defensive end Leslie O’Neil, Texas defensive tackle Kenneth Sims, Texas quarterback Vince Young, Texas Tech running back Byron Hanspard and Texas Tech coach Pete Cawthon.
From this list of over 200 nominees, the final group of inductees, which will feature about 10 players and three coaches, will be announced in January.
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Oliver Luck has a new job.
After a four-year stint as WVU’s director of athletics (2010-14), Luck went to work for the NCAA, becoming its executive vice president for regulatory affairs. Now Luck is on the move again, as he’s been hired as the commissioner and CEO of the XFL. Luck will oversee the revival of that professional football league, which is slated to return to action in 2020.
By the way, three former Mountaineers played in the original version of the XFL, the Vince McMahon creation that lasted just one season, 2001. Jay Taylor did the placekicking for the Orlando Rage, while defensive lineman Henry Slay and linebacker Bernard Russ were members of the NY/NJ Hitmen.
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Bob Huggins also has a new job, though just a part-time one.
The Mountaineer men’s basketball coach was recently appointed to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) board of directors.
Huggins will be one of 17 members of the board that governs the NABC, which is an organization of over 5,000 coaches at all levels.
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Mountaineer pitcher Michael Grove was selected in the second round of the MLB Draft last week, being chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 68th overall pick.
A junior from Wheeling, Grove is the 11th WVU baseball player all-time selected in the top 10 rounds and the fourth in the top two. Jedd Gyorko was the most recent Mountaineer drafted in the second round, as he went in the 59th slot to the San Deigo Padres in 2010.
Bridgeport’s Harrison Musgrave is the Mountaineer most recently picked in the top eight rounds, as the lefthanded pitcher was an eighth-round selection of the Colorado Rockies in 2014. WVU outfielder Bobby Boyd also was drafted in the eighth round in 2014, as he was taken by Houston. Though Boyd retired from baseball last year, having never advanced to the Major Leagues, both Gyorko and Musgrave are currently in the MLB. Musgrave is a relief pitcher with Colorado, and Gyorko is a platoon infielder with Cincinnati.
In the last 50 years, two of the three previous top two round draft picks from West Virginia eventually made it to the Majors. Like Gyorko, outfielder Darrell Whitmore was a second round choice, being selected by the Cleveland Indians in 1990. He ultimately spent three seasons in the Majors. Chris Enochs is WVU’s only first round MLB draft pick ever, being taken No. 11 overall by Oakland in 1997. In his nine-year professional stint, Enochs rose as high as the Class AAA level for several seasons, but a shoulder injury ultimately ended his career just short of the Major Leagues in 2005.
Besides Grove, three other current Mountaineers – Kyle Gray, Jimmy Galusky and B.J. Myers – were also drafted by MLB teams last week. In addition, three recruits who had signed with WVU also were drafted – Lawrence Butler, Theo McDowell and Paul McInthosh.
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With Shepherd University and UVA-Wise leaving the Mountain East Conference, the word is that Frostburg State and Alderson-Broaddus are the most likely replacements.