Darryl Talley is one of 14 players and two coaches being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is just the sixth from West Virginia University to be elected as a player, and the 12th overall.
“I think it’s a tremendous honor,” said Talley, who now resides in Orlando, Fla.
Talley’s class will be officially introduced at the National Football Foundation Awards Dinner on Dec. 6, 2011 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, and the official enshrinement is tentatively scheduled to take place during the summer of 2012.
Talley became a consensus All-American at West Virginia University in 1982 before embarking upon a long and successful career in the NFL, spending 12 seasons in Buffalo and two more in Atlanta and Minnesota before retiring in1996.
“I don’t think there were that many guys who played as long as I did at the level that I did,” Talley said.
Talley went on to accumulate 484 career tackles, 28 tackles for losses and 19 sacks while picking off five passes during his outstanding four-year career playing for coaches Frank Cignetti and Don Nehlen. He had phenomenal games against Maryland and Boston College as a senior in 1982, and a career-high five TFL performance in the freezing rain at Mountaineer Field during a close loss to Penn State as a sophomore in 1980.
But it was the Pitt game up in Pittsburgh, playing against the second-ranked Panthers on ABC that really showcased Talley’s terrific all-around skills to a national audience. He was everywhere that afternoon, intercepting passes, blocking punts for touchdowns and spending nearly the entire game in the Panther backfield. Most agree that was the game that led him down the path toward consensus All-America honors.
But the two games that really stood out to Talley – and the ones he believes were responsible for turning him into the great player he became – were his first career start against Richmond in 1979, and the Oklahoma game in 1982 when West Virginia came back from an early deficit to upset the ninth-ranked Sooners.
“The Richmond game was the first one that I started and I was out of breath; I was exhausted,” Talley laughed. “At halftime they had me breathing in a brown paper bag and drinking Coke trying to get some carbon dioxide into my body because I was
Three years later, the Oklahoma game proved to be the turning point not only for Darryl Talley’s football career, but also
Mountaineer football as a national program to be reckoned with.
“I was on the team that went to Oklahoma and got beat 52-10,” Talley recalled. “So when we go out there again in ’82, I’m playing with a temperature of 102 and it’s hotter than that out there on the field. I remember coming to the sidelines and I could barely hold my head up.”
When he reached the sideline Talley’s best friend, linebacker Dennis Fowlkes, lit into him.
“Who the hell are you?” Fowlkes yelled. “This ain’t the Darryl Talley that I know!”
Talley, feeling weak and fatigued, looked up at Fowlkes and told him that he was lucky he was even out there on the field playing that afternoon the way he was feeling.
“He just looked at me, shook his head, and he told me I had to play better than that,” Talley said. “I’m like, ‘OK, from this point forward it’s going to be hell for everybody to pay.’”
“I remember we had a good team that year coming off the Peach Bowl and the Oklahoma game, and going up there standing on the sidelines and watching Talley … he was just a one-man wrecking crew,” WVU Athletics Director Oliver Luck recalled.
West Virginia University’s College Football Hall of Fame Inductees
Fielding Yost, Coach, 1951
Ira Errett Rodgers, Player, 1953
Clarence Spears, Coach, 1955
Joe Stydahar, Player, 1956
Greasy Neale, Coach, 1967
Sam Huff, Player, 1980
Bruce Bosley, Player, 1982
Ben Schwartzwalder, Coach, 1982
Don Nehlen, Coach, 2005
Bobby Bowden, Coach, 2006
Major Harris, Player, 2009
Darryl Talley, Player, 2011