Grant Wiley. Credit: MSNSportsnet.com
We continue our 12 Days Countdown to Kickoff with #6 Grant Wiley.
Hometown: Trappe, PA
Record: 27-12, Bowl Record: 1-2
Grant Wiley was a major defensive recruit for Coach Nehlen in 2000, his last recruiting class at West Virginia. Wiley was rated as the 8th best linebacker in the East when he came to Morgantown, WV. He became an instant starter at linebacker for the Mountaineers. Wiley compiled 94 tackles as a freshman to earn Big East Rookie of the Year in 2000. With Nehlen leaving the program after the 2000 season, Wiley was asked to learn how to play linebacker in the 3-3-5 odd stack defense. He would excel in the new defensive system, putting up more impressive statistics than in the 4-3 system. Wiley would lead the Mountaineers defense through a tough 2001 season, to build towards impressive defenses in the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Wiley would help the 2002 and 2003 defenses become top 25 defenses and help the Mountaineers make it consecutive bowl games. Wiley also earned some personal accolades along the way; All-Big East 2002 and 2003, and Consensus First Team All-America in 2003. His time in Morgantown was certainly memorable and should earn him a place in the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in the near future.
Memorable Game: Coach Don Nehlen announced to the West Virginia football team that 2000 would be his last season in Morgantown. WVU started the 2000 season with a 3-1 record and were in pursuit of one last bowl game for Coach Nehlen. The season also held special significance because the Mountaineers were closing in on the program’s 600th victory. They would go for win 600 against Idaho. The Mountaineers defense would be challenged by the Vandals high flying passing attack. Idaho jumped out to a 9-0 first half lead. Wiley and the WVU defense would rally around each other to bring the Mountaineers back in the 2nd half. Wiley punished the Vandals with 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and a defensive touchdown. West Virginia rallied to a 28-16 win to secure the program’s 600th victory.
Competition: This was a tough choice to make. There are two great Mountaineers that wore #6: Wiley and David Saunders. Wiley’s impressive statistics as one of the best linebackers in West Virginia history. Saunders is arguably the best receiver in WVU history. When it comes down to it, I went with Wiley because I personally lean towards defensive players. I know it’s biased, but I’m the one writing this, so my preference wins out.
Teaser: Tomorrow we look at the career of the best offensive playmakers in WVU history. He has one of the more popular names in West Virginia, or at least that’s what many outsiders think. This dual threat quarterback was wild and wonderful.