MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Mountaineer great Noel Devine was back at Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday, as he was on-hand for West Virginia’s dominant victory over Towson.
Devine was in Morgantown not only to watch his former team, but also to support and celebrate one of his former teammates.
“I just came here to support Stedman Bailey, he’s a brother of mine, I love him,” Devine said. “Having a teammate like that, and supporting him, means a lot as well.”
Bailey was one of eight former West Virginia athletes who were inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday. Bailey was inducted along with greats like Tavon Austin, Geno Smith, and Kevin Jones.
Devine, who rushed for 4,315 yards and 29 touchdowns during his collegiate career, was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame last October.
He called it a surreal moment when reflecting on his induction on Saturday.
“Everyone’s not able to accomplish something like that,” said Devine. “There’s been a lot of greats to wear the Gold and Blue uniform, so to set that milestone, it’s an amazing accomplishment.”
Devine was a junior when Bailey joined the Mountaineers, and the two have been close ever since. They returned to WVU at the same time, in 2016, to finish their degrees.
Devine and the trio of football stars honored on Saturday only shared the field for one season. That was 2010: Smith’s first year as the starting QB, Austin’s first year as a feature target in the passing game, Bailey’s first year on campus, and Devine’s last season as a Mountaineer.
The 2010 campaign ended with the Mountaineers having a 9-4 record. West Virginia played to a 17-9 record over the next two years.
Devine described playing with the talented trio as an amazing experience. While he wouldn’t speak to how much better the ’11 and ’12 WVU teams could have been if he was still wearing a Mountaineer uniform, he did congratulate them on their inductions.
“What those guys have accomplished, and continued the West Virginia legacy of the era of having a great dynamic duo. Those guys, they continued to build off what Pat White, Steve Slaton, Owen Schmitt, and guys like myself built,” Devine said. “So, congratulations to those guys, for getting inducted into the Hall of Fame.”
As a freshman in 2007, Devine played sparingly behind Slaton during one of the most memorable seasons in WVU football history.
This year, a true freshman is West Virginia’s leading rusher. CJ Donaldson has burst onto the scene, as the converted running back is averaging 9.4 yards per rush, and has scored six touchdowns on the ground.
“I see a bright future in the young man,” Devine said of Donaldson. “He stood out the first game against Pitt, just watching on TV. There’s something about him. One guy isn’t going to tackle him. That shows signs of a great running back – he’s powerful, he’s big. I was amazed scrolling through social media to see that he came in as a tight end.”
Devine, who graduated as the third most prolific rusher in WVU history, said he sees natural running back movement from Donaldson. He added that the freshman is “special” with the ball in his hands.
Donaldson rushed for 101 yards on nine carries and scored three touchdowns in WVU’s blowout win.