Admittedly this is not a complete list, that would be near impossible. But WVSports.com takes a look at just a handful of the players who’ve made impacts with West Virginia’s football program over the years.
This list is designed for those players who started their careers as trainees even if they were eventually placed on a scholarship later on.
Offensive Line Rich Braham – 1990-93
Perhaps the most decorated name on this list, Braham was a University High School product and walked at West Virginia where he became a standout offensive lineman. Braham made 37 starts at left tackle for the Mountaineers during his career and was a senior during his final season. The epitome of toughness, Braham battled multiple injuries on his way to his NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Defender Owen Schmidt – 2005-07
Schmidt just wanted a chance—that is, a chance to showcase what he could do at the next level after playing for Wisconsin River Falls, a D-III program. He was found at West Virginia where he not only proved he could play at that level, but became an integral part of the Mountaineers team from 2005 to 2007. During his career, he rushed for 1,003 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding 288 receiving yards and two scores . And those totals don’t even include the holes made by Pat White and Steve Slaton.
LB Nagy Judd – 2008-11
Goode walked West Virginia from Cleveland and had to earn a role over the course of his first two seasons, but has played a much larger role in his final two seasons. Goode appeared in 56 games over his career and started his last two seasons at SAM and then MIKE. Goode finished his career with 142 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions before going on to play for several NFL teams. The last time was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
WR Zach Abraham – 1991-1994
The Triadelphia native walked West Virginia and while it took him a while to settle into appearing in just one game his first two years, he saw things pick up in his third season with 10 catches for 174 yards and a score. But it was his senior year that made him a legend in many eyes due to a successful campaign with 41 catches for 752 yards and 6 touchdowns including a 60-yard touchdown run to beat Pitt in 1994 in the dying seconds after the Mountaineers blew the lead.
K. Paul Woodside – 1981-84
Woodside is another member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, but his career originally began as a walk-on from Falls Church, Virginia. During his four-year career, Woodside went on to rewrite West Virginia’s kicking record, setting school records for scoring (323 points), field goals (74) and field goals attempted (93). He also hit 79.6 percent of his field goal attempts. As a first team All American, he will forever be remembered for many things including his fourth quarter field goal to lead the Mountaineers over Penn State in 1984.
Scott Giorko – 2001-04
A college product who walked into West Virginia after receiving no offers from high school and definitely benefited from his college experience. Gyorko began his career as a backup but transitioned into a starting role as he finished his four-year career with 222 tackles for loss, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 3 forced fumbles.
LB Ben Collins – 1998-2002
Collins came to West Virginia as a walk-on after stellar career at North Marion where he was known more for his offensive talents. At Morgantown he was playing defense and after developing his physicality found himself as a starter during his senior season with 98 tackles and 4 tackles for loss as well as an interception. He was also the player who got his gloves to thwart Pittsburgh’s game-winning attempt in the 2002 Brawl.
FB Moe Fofana – 2001-03
He entered the program as a walk-on out of Maryland, and while he eventually won a scholarship for his efforts, he was impressed by being a blocker during his career. Fofana only touched the ball five times for 28 yards and a touchdown during his time at Morgantown but earned the respect and trust of many because of his disability.
WR Grants Bell – 1985-88
Bell from South Florida was initially recruited as a walk-on, so he made the roster despite being placed on scholarship early in his career. He played all four years hauling in 46 passes for 819 yards and six touchdowns including a touchdown catch in the Fiesta Bowl for the Mountaineers.
LB Justin Arndt – 2013-16
Arndt began his career as a trainee out of Martinsburg and played on special teams and reserves for his first three years with the Mountaineers. But in his final season, Arndt raised his game and landed a starting role as he was responsible for 84 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and an impressive 3 sacks.
D.B. Rich Rodriguez – 1982-84
Rodriguez is best known for what happened after his playing days once he became head coach, but he did spend three years on the field with the Mountaineers and made an important play in the 1984 Penn State game recording an interception. He finished his career with 53 tackles and 3 picks. Rodriguez would go on to coach the Mountaineers before he controversially left for Michigan.
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