This Saturday, at Milan Puskar Stadium, the West Virginia Mountaineers will say goodbye to the class of 2013. The class features 22 seniors that have given 4 (or 5 for red-shirt seniors) years to the WVU football program. It is a senior class that has brought 34 victories (and counting) to Morgantown, WV including 3 bowl appearances and an Orange Bowl victory.
The 22 seniors giving their final home performance against the Kansas Jayhawks are:
- Offensive: QB Geno Smith, RB Shawne Alston, RB Ryan Clarke, RB Donovan Miles, WR Tavon Austin, WR J.D. Woods, WR Ryan Nehlen, WR Pete Miller, OL Joe Madsen, OL Jeff Braun, OL Josh Jenkins, and OL John Bassler
- Defensive: DL J.B. Lageman, DL Jorge Wright, LB Josh Francis, LB Terence Garvin, DB Pat Miller, DB Cecil Level, DB Matt Moro, and DB Nick Caldwell
- Special Teams: K/P Tyler Bitancurt and K/P Corey Smith
This class of Mountaineers has seen an unusual period of WVU football. All were recruits that came to Morgantown to play for coach Bill Stewart. Once on campus, these players had to learn how to play in Jeff Mullen’s run first, more pro-style offense or Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 odd stack defense. Since their freshman seasons, they have had to learn completely new offensive and defensive schemes, not an easy task. But this class has faced adversity and conquered it.
The game that this class will most be remembered for will be the 2012 Orange Bowl victory over Clemson, 70-33. That bowl victory put West Virginia in the national spotlight and was the crowning achievement to the Big East era prior to joining the Big XII conference.
The loss of stars such as Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Joe Madsen will be felt next season as they leave big shoes to be filled by the underclassmen. These 22 seniors comprise much of the starting line-up and contribute quite a bit to the overall depth chart that has led the Mountaineers to a 4th straight bowl appearance.
All will be missed by the Mountaineers faithful. Everyone who supports the Mountaineers should make an effort to get to Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday to wish the seniors well in their future pursuits and to witness one last performance by a talented group of players.