West Virginia’s rushing attack has featured some of the most fearsome ball-carriers to play college football — but who is the best to ever do it?
To kick off our All-Mountaineer Team decision, we’re examining WVU’s greatest athletes at the running back position. It is one of the most important skill positions in the history of the sport, and the Mountaineers have been fortunate to boast some elite tailbacks since the program was founded in 1891.
If you need a little help casting your vote, take a glance underneath the poll to refresh your memory on some of the best backs to wear the Old Gold and Blue.
Robert Walker (1992-1995): A top-10 rusher all-time at WVU, the Huntington native was a workhorse for the Mountaineers between his sophomore and senior seasons. His peak came during his 1993 sophomore campaign, when he dashed for a total of 1,250 yards and 11 touchdowns — two career highs. Fans will fondly remember his go-ahead touchdown run late in the fourth quarter against No. 4 Miami in 1993, saving No. 9 WVU’s undefeated regular season.
Amos Zereoue (1996-1998): Zereoue was a dominant tailback for three seasons in Morgantown, putting up at least 1,100 yards in all three of his seasons, the first WVU player ever to accomplish that in consecutive years. His 1997 run was one for the books, running for 1,589 yards and a program-record 18 touchdowns as he was named WVU’s Most Valuable Player. As a senior, his mad sprint against Syracuse on a Statue of Liberty play was one of his two touchdowns to help give WVU the Schwartzwalder Trophy for another year. He was inducted to the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Avon Cobourne (1999-2002): Mountaineer fans didn’t have to worry much after Zereoue took his talents to the NFL with Avon Cobourne filling his spot. Cobourne picked up right where his predecessor left off, tallying four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with West Virginia to become the program’s all-time leading rusher with 5,164 yards — a record that stands to this day. He was honored as All-Big East in all four of his seasons and is just one of 23 players in NCAA history to rush for 5,000 or more yards in his career. Cobourne was inducted to the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
Steve Slaton (2005-2007): Slaton was a key piece to some of the best backfields that WVU has put on the field. Another Mountaineer to rush for 1,000 yards or more every season, his 1,744 yards in his sophomore season in 2006 is still the biggest rushing season of any Mountaineer in history, and his 50 career rushing touchdowns is still the top tally among WVU’s rushers. A true Mountaineer, Slaton had Pitt’s number in 2006 — in that year’s Backyard Brawl, he set career highs for rush yards (215), receiving yards (130), receptions (6) and receiving touchdowns (2) along with a pair of touchdowns on the ground as WVU coasted to a 45-27 victory. He was inducted to the WVU Sports Hall of Fame alongside Cobourne in 2018.
Noel Devine (2007-2010): Devine’s high school highlight tape made him a star before he stepped on WVU’s campus, and it’s safe to say the speedster lived up to the hype. He made a splash as a true freshman by chipping in 157 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns against Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. That performance kicked off a career in which he rushed for 4,315 yards, the third-highest tally ever and second-highest by a running back, and added 29 touchdowns on the ground. He opted to forgo the NFL Draft after a memorable 2009 junior season in which he garnered career highs in rush yards (1465) and touchdowns (13). Injuries shortened his production as a senior, but he was still able to muster 934 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns for a strong finish to his career.
Make sure to cast your vote for WVU’s best running back before July 2. Next, we will need your help to decide which Mountaineer receivers were the best in program history, so be sure to stop by tomorrow on WVIllustrated.com to cast your vote.
If your favorite running back or wide receiver doesn’t get the top vote, don’t worry! On July 2, we will take some of the highest vote-getters at the RB and WR positions to determine the best offensive flex position.
Full list of daily polls:
- Wide receiver (click to vote)
- Defensive line (click to vote)
- June 26: Linebacker (top 3 vote-getters)
- June 27: Tight end/Fullback
- June 28: Offensive Line
- June 29: Quarterback
- June 30: Defensive back (top 2 vote-getters)
- July 1: Safety (top 2 vote-getters)
- July 2: Offensive Flex (based on high vote-getters)
- July 3: Defensive Flex (based on high vote-getters)
- July 4: Kicker/punter
- July 5: Head Coach
- July 6: Full reveal of the All-Mountaineer Team