5. Owen Schmitt, Fullback (2004-07)
Owen Schmitt is the prototypical West Virginia story. A hard-working, pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps type of football player. He walked-on at WVU after playing one season at Division-III Wisconsin-River Falls. Shortly thereafter, Schmitt was part of the most lethal backfield in college football, flanked by quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton.
He exemplified all those tools and life lessons football can teach a person, too. The hard work was obvious, but he also believed in his teammates and persevered through injuries — even if they were self-inflicted (remember when he bashed his own helmet off his forehead before a game?).
The highlight of Schmitt’s career, to me, would be his Fiesta Bowl performance and interview. He rushed for just 64 yards on three carries, but added a momentum-shifting touchdown that stretched 57 yards for the game’s first touchdown; Oklahoma didn’t stand a chance. In his post-game interview, Schmitt let it be known that the team saw nearly everyone picking against the Mountaineers, too, in favor of the Sooners. He even spoke about a poll he’d seen earlier about the matchup.
“The whole U.S. was covered in red, and the only state — the greatest state in the nation — was covered in blue and that was West Virginia and that’s why we won this game.” Schmitt continued, “Overcame adversity, came together as a team, and that’s why we won.”
That sort of passion yet level-headedness would make Schmitt an excellent quarantine buddy. And he spoke rather candidly in many of his interviews, but I bet there are some excellent unheard stories in his vault.