This weekend, the College Football Hall of Fame will induct its latest class. There is some mountain state flavor in this year’s group as former WVU defensive star, Darryl Talley, is being inducted.
Talley is a very underrated player in Mountaineer history. He was a part of a group of players that was recruited by Gary Stevens out of the Cleveland area and they ushered in a new era of Mountaineer football. Oliver Luck was also a part of that group.
The new stadium was built at that time, Don Nehlen was named head coach and the program took off. It has not looked back since. The arrival of players such as Luck, Talley and Dennis Fowlkes started a growth process that made the WVU brand the nationally respected football brand that it is today.
There are other under-rated stars in this year’s class. One is former Air Force head coach Fisher DeBerry. He did not coach at a football power. His teams were never going to play for the national championship. However, coaching at a service academy like Air Force is one of the most important jobs in the country. He coached leaders. He mentored young men and the assistant coaches on his staff. As Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said, "he taught us all to treat every player like we would treat our own son."
Another under-rated name in the class is former Minnesota quarterback Sandy Stephens. Sandy was from Uniontown, Pa. He was one of many great quarterbacks from western Pa. of that era. There was one difference. Sandy Stephens was black.
He would go on to lead Minnesota to the national champonship in 1960 and the Rose Bowl in 1961 and 1962. He was the first black quarterback to be named an all-American in Division I football.
This truly is a class of underrated players and coaches. It is good to see the College Football Hall of Fame give them their due.