Since West Virginia’s first intercollegiate football game in 1891, thousands and thousands of individuals have played for the Mountaineers.
The first recorded use of numbers on WVU uniforms was in 1915, and they have been a standard fixture ever since. For many, the number is almost as much an identifier during their careers as their name. At West Virginia, who could think of Jerry West without #44 or Major Harris without #9?
With that came the idea of putting together a list of the best Mountaineer to wear each number for both football and men’s basketball.
Some student-athletes wore multiple numbers during their careers. When more than one uniform number was used, I tried to focus on the digit that was associated the most with that individual. I’ll admit this list is completely subjective, so feel free to express your own opinions on our BlueGoldNews.com message boards.
We continue today with numbers 50-59 in football.
Previously In The Series
50 – Dennis Fowlkes (LB, 1979-82) One half of arguably the greatest linebacker tandem in Mountaineer football history, Fowlkes was “Mr. Inside,” combining with Darryl Talley, “Mr. Outside,” in turning the course of WVU fortunes in the early Don Nehlen years. Fowlkes remains third in West Virginia history in career tackles with 459, trailing only Grant Wiley (492 from 2000-03) and Talley (484). A native of Columbus, Ohio, Fowlkes also finished his WVU career with 18 TFLs, nine sacks and seven interceptions. Though undrafted by the NFL following his senior campaign, Fowlkes did spend three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and one with the Miami Dolphins.
Honorable mention – Billy Joe Mantooth, Ken Culbertson, Matt Smith, Mike Booth, Steve Lippe, Moe Howard, Brandon Yates
51 – Carl Crennel (DL, 1967-69). A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, Crennel was a starter on defense at middle guard for all three of his varsity seasons with the Mountaineers. An All-American as a senior, Crennel was a captain for that 1969 WVU squad that finished 10-1 and took a 14-3 Peach Bowl victory from South Carolina, a game in which he was the MVP. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the ninth round, Crennel was just 6-foot, 225 pounds, so he wasn’t a prototypical NFL lineman, even for that era. He did spend one year with the Steelers but then moved on to the CFL, where he was highly successful. He played 11 years in Canada and was part of three Grey Cup victories. He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. Carl is the younger brother of long-time NFL coach Romeo Crennel.
Honorable mention – Gary Barnett, John Garcia, Mike Herzog, Jeff Price, Joe Pabian III, Ryan Price, Kyle Poland
52 – Najee Goode (LB, 2008-11). From walk-on to industrial engineering grad to a nine-year NFL career, Goode is quite a story. The Cleveland native redshirted his first year at WVU but then played in all 52 games for the Mountaineers the next four seasons, recording 142 tackles, 26.5 TFLs, eight sacks and two interceptions. Drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fifth round in 2012, he spent the next nine years in the NFL, including being on the winning side of the 2018 Super Bowl with Philadelphia.
Honorable mention – Al Gluchoski, Brian Hendricks, Mark Ulmer, Jerome Taylor, Nick Meadows
53 – Colton McKivitz (OL, 2016-19). McKivitz was thrust into action early in his redshirt freshman year and met every challenge for the next four seasons. When WVU offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste was injured during the initial series of the 2017 season opener, McKivitz, in his first college game, was tossed into the fray and despite facing a future first-round draft choice in Missouri’s Charles Harris, he more than held his own. The offensive tackle remained a solid rock the next four years, culminating his college career by being named the 2019 Big 12 co-offensive lineman of the year, as well as earning second-team (Walter Camp) and third-team (A.P.) All-American mention. Drafted in the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers in 2020, he played in 14 games and started three of them as an NFL rookie last season.
Honorable mention – Terry King, Greg Dorn, Joe Ayuso, Marc Magro, Tyler Anderson
54 – Bob Orders (OL/DL, 1952-53). A native of Huntington, West Virginia, Orders spent his first two college years at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, where he played center for Army. He transferred back to WVU in 1952 and immediately became a key member of some of the best Mountaineer teams of all time, helping West Virginia to a 15-4 record in his two seasons. A first-team all-Southern Conference selection in both 1952 and ’53, he also was named first-team all-American by the NEA as a senior, as well as being picked as the State of West Virginia’s Athlete of the Year. Though he was drafted in the 13th round by the Green Bay Packers in 1954, Orders instead spent two years serving in the Army. He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. He passed away in 2014.
Honorable mention – Pete Goimarac, Bob Crites, Scott Barrows, Darnell Warren, Derrick Bell, Charlton Forbes, Zach Frazier
55 – Gary Stills (LB, 1997-99). The patriarch of the Stills family (along with sons Darius and Dante) that has left a huge imprint on Mountaineer football, Gary was a devastating edge rusher in his three seasons on the field at WVU. His 26 career sacks are second in school history, trailing only Canute Curtis (35). With 12 sacks in 1997 and 10 in 1998, Gary is one of only two Mountaineers, along with Curtis, to register 10 or more sacks in two separate seasons. A native of Trenton, New Jersey, Gary was drafted in the third round by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1999 and spent 10 seasons in the NFL, which featured stints in K.C. (1999-05), Baltimore (2006-07) and St. Louis (2008).
Honorable mention – Steve Dunlap, Jeff Macerelli, Mike Dawson, Dave Oblack, Bob Kovach, Boris Graham, Bobby Hathaway, Yodny Cajuste, Dante Stills
56 – Darius Stills (DL, 2017-20). The son of Gary, Darius is the second member of the Stills family to make this list. As a nose tackle, Darius’ sack numbers (11.5 for his career) don’t compete with his edge-rushing father’s (26), but the son exceeded the dad in many other ways. With 84 career tackles, 25.5 TFLs and one interception, the Fairmont, West Virginia, native performed on the field, and his leadership was unmatched on the 2020 squad. Stills was named the Big 12’s defensive lineman of the year this past season and was recognized as a consensus All-American – the 12th in WVU history. He signed a contract this spring with the Las Vegas Raiders as an undrafted free agent.
Honorable mention – Doc Holliday, Tim Brown (LB), Jewone Snow, Grant Lingafelter
57 – Kevin Koken (C, 1985-88). A four-year starter at center, Koken was a captain for WVU’s 1988 squad, which went 11-0 in the regular season and played Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship. Voted to the Associated Press’s all-East first-team in 1988, the AP also named him honorable mention all-American that season. He capped his WVU career by earning the football program’s John Russell Award, which goes to the Mountaineer lineman who demonstrates the “best spirit and leadership.”
Honorable mention – Dave Johnson, Joe Ruth, Jay Brooks, Jeremy Hines, Jeff Braun, Adam Pankey, Michael Brown
58 – Andre Gist (OL, 1979-82). Initially a defensive lineman when he first arrived at West Virginia, Gist eventually moved to offensive guard where he developed into a starter in his final two seasons. A native of Clinton, Maryland, Gist’s strength, with a reported bench press of 425 pounds, allowed him to pass protect for quarterback Jeff Hostetler as well as open holes for the likes of Curlin Beck and Tommy Gray. After graduating from WVU, Gist spent the 1983 season playing in the USFL for the Tampa Bay Bandits. He died that offseason in Morgantown as the result of injuries suffered in a car crash.
Honorable mention – Terry Voithofer, Bernardo Amerson
59 – Scott Dixon (LB, 1981-84). – A native of Canton, Ohio, Dixon was a part of West Virginia’s linebacker rotation, as well as an important special teams player, before ascending into a starting outside linebacker role his senior season. He recorded 104 tackles in his career; 62 of them came in his final campaign when he also had eight TFLs and four sacks. He helped WVU to a total record of 26-10 in his three seasons as a letterman.
Honorable mention – Eric Lester, Ted Daniels, Jeff Noechel, Stone Underwood