Morgantown, West Virginia – I think we could all use some positive news. When I came up with the idea of writing this column, I first thought about making it football specific, but upon further examination, I realized that it would be difficult some weeks to find three to five guys to put on this list. Next, I had to come up with a name fitting of the column. Something you need to know about me is that I am a fool for alliteration. Mountaineer Marvel’s? I think I might get in trouble with Disney for this one. Cork’s Caped Crusaders? I heard Disney makes all superhero movies now. Brandon’s Best? Kind of generic, but we’re at the point in late-stage capitalism that I can’t be 100% sure if Disney doesn’t own me as well. So I settled for Magnificent Mountaineers – it’s appropriate, alliterative, and I won’t have to pay royalties to anyone (especially a mouse).
This will be a weekly column. I’ll try to find players from WVU’s top sports to place here, but also be sure to highlight some student-athletes from not so well-known sports. However, be warned, if all major sports end up having a bad week, this list could end up being just the Rifle team and some students from the WVU intramural sports scene. Without further ado, here is my list, in no particular order, of top mountaineers for the week ending November 14th.
- Kaden Prather, Freshman WR (Football) – As a Kaden Prather fan, I have been waiting for this performance. The six foot three, 210 pounds wide receiver out of Germantown, Maryland was a consensus 4 star, top 300 player coming out of high school. To top that, he had offers from most major “brand name” college football programs: Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and more than 2 dozen others, and he ultimately ended up a Mountaineer. I thought at the beginning of the season that he would end up playing early. Last year’s receiving corp had a bad case of the drops. However, they turned it around this season, which unfortunately, led to Prather fighting to find a way on the field. Prather started seeing more snaps in the Baylor game, which he actually started, but he only saw limited snaps since then. That was until this past week where he played 48 snaps – more than he saw in the past 3 weeks combined – and put up 4 catches for 60 yards with a long of 32 yards. Prather ran clean routes, showed strong hands, and the ability to make plays after the catch. He has the highest potential of any receiver on the team due to his combination of size, athleticism, and hands. He will be an exciting player to watch going forward, and I hope Neal Brown and his staff continue to work Kaden into the game plan.
- Malik Curry, Grad Transfer PG (Basketball) – I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure how Malik Curry would transition from being the go-to guy on a bad college basketball team (no offense Old Dominion) in a bad conference (no offense Conference USA) to being a secondary to tertiary option at WVU. I was further discouraged after Huggins named Kedrian Johnson the starting point guard at the beginning of the season. But looking back, I get it. Kedrian knows Huggins system, and Malik still had to prove his worth. Boy did he. Against Pitt, he was the catalyst the offense needed to create separation and cruise to an easy win. Malik finished 5-5 from the field for 10 points, dished out 3 assists, and grabbed 2 steals… in 12 MINUTES! Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit, but WVU badly needs a secondary playmaker behind Taz; and if Malik can continue finding ways into the lane, he should be that guy.
- Ceili McCabe, Junior (Cross Country) – I know nothing about cross country, but I came across Ceili’s performance on November 12th when I saw she was named WVU Student-Athlete of the Week by the university. That alone means she belongs on this list. However, her performance at the Mid-Atlantic Regional was exceptional. Not only did she come in first place and lead the cross-country team to an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships this weekend, but she is the first Mountaineer cross-country runner to win a Mid-Atlantic regional tile since 2002.
- Sam Huff, Linebacker (Football) – While not a current WVU player, Sam Huff’s legacy will forever live on at WVU. He is enshrined College Football Hall of Fame, NFL Hall of Fame, and WVU Sports Hall of Fame. He is one of the rare players that switched positions after joining the NFL – from lineman to middle linebacker – and saw great success. Hall of Fame Head Coach (then Huff’s defensive coordinator at the Giants) designed the 4-3 defense around Sam Huff’s abilities. Hall of Fame Head Coach Vince Lombardi (then offensive coordinator of the Giants) said, “It’s uncanny the way Huff follows the ball.” He even had a documentary hosted by Walter Cronkite aired about him on CBS called “The Violent World of Sam Huff”. Huff finished his pro career as a 5-time pro bowler, 2-time all-pro and 1-time NFL Champ. He made an impact at a moment where the NFL was growing and gaining new fans. He impacted the entire game of football, not just at WVU, but in the NFL as well. It is extremely sad to hear of his passing. I offer my deepest condolences to his friends and family. Sam Huff was a one of one, and he will be remembered by Mountaineer Nation for the rest of time.
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