Transfers Not Just A Recent Trend At WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Transfers have become a big item in college sports and no one has really made better use of it than Dana Holgorsen and West Virginia, who have cracked college football’s Top 10 this week with the Homecoming game at noon Saturday against lowly Kansas awaiting them.
Between major college transfers and junior college additions, WVU gets major contributions from no fewer than 16 players from quarterback Will Grier from Florida to nose tackle Kenny Bigelow to safety Toyous Avery to cornerback Josh Norwood to cornerback Keith Washington and on and on.
While the art of transferring has been refined and made far easier, that WVU has made the most of transfers in its athletic department is nothing new, a point that was driven home at the last home game two weeks ago when WVU was inducting a new class into its Sports Hall of Fame.
Among those being inducted was basketball star Mike Gansey, who came to Morgantown after playing two years at St. Bonaventure before John Beilein brought him in.
“I was dead-set on transferring and WVU was my first visit,” Gansey recalled. “After leaving Morgantown, I realized something special was going on here and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Another inductee, gymnast Bev Fry Plocki, also spoke glowingly of her move from the University of Alabama, where she was an All-American as a freshman, to WVU.
“I discovered I was not much of a southern belle,” she said. “I left at Christmas of my sophomore year.”
The thing was, she didn’t have anywhere to go, times being different then. She found a job and was looking for something when Linda Burdette called.
“She gave me an opportunity to get my life on track. She was my mentor, my role model. She gave me a chance,” Plocki said, now one of the top gymnastic coaches in the college world at Michigan.
Another Hall of Fame inductee this year was football’s Tom Keane, who lettered in the sport not only at West Virginia but at Ohio State, a path now being followed on this year’s team by cornerback Josh Norwood.
Keane started at Ohio State, went into the service in the 1940s and then came to WVU upon his return and wound up being the 18th overall draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1948 as a defensive back and offensive end. He played for eight years before launching a long-time coaching career that saw him coach on five Super Bowl staffs.
Holgorsen has had great success with his transfers. Of 13 players sent to the NFL, seven transferred to WVU.
The history of Mountaineer sports is rich with transfers, going back as far as you want to go … or can go.
In fact, the best athlete of the first century of WVU sports — and maybe even to this day — was a transfer.
His name was Ira Errett Rodgers and was from Bethany. As a high school student, he played at Bethany because there was no high school in his area. At 12 and penniless, legend has it, he hopped a freight train to see Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indians and that hooked him on sports.
Rodgers came from Bethany to WVU and became the school’s first-ever consensus All-American in 1919.
West Virginia’s first NFL draft choice was a transfer, that being Joe Stydahar, who originally attended Pitt before transferring from Army.
But basketball has long benefited from players transferring in.
One of the best was Stan Boskovich, who averaged 17.8 points and 5.5 rebounds a game after transferring in 1975 from Yavapai College. D’Or Fischer, a 7-footer, came in from Northwestern State in Louisiana to set the school’s season and career blocked shots record, and Tony Robertson averaged 18 points a game after he came in from Eastern Arizona Junior College in the mid-1970s.