7s are wild in WVU’s campaign for Heisman hopeful Will Grier |

7s are wild in WVU’s campaign for Heisman hopeful Will Grier

Jerry DiPaola
Texas defensive back Brandon Jones (19) tackles West Virginia quarterback Will Grier (7) short of the goal line during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Morgantown, W.Va. Grier injured his hand in during the play and left the game. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

West Virginia football’s campaign to help quarterback Will Grier win the Heisman Trophy is geared toward the No. 7, his uniform number.

The campaign was launched July 7, after a series of meetings this year with nine university employees, including coach Dana Holgorsen. The first of seven four-minute videos about Grier will appear on a specially created website at 7 p.m. Sunday — and the next six Sundays after that.

Those plans are man-made, but the number 7 is, actually and coincidentally , part of West Virginia’s Heisman history. Two of the past three Moutaineers quarterbacks who entered their seasons as Heisman hopefuls finished seventh in the final voting — Jeff Hostetler in 1983 and Pat White in 2008. (WVU officials were so serious about Hostetler that they produced a 45 record with a theme song titled “ Ole Hoss, The Ballad of West Virginia’s Jeff Hostetler.” )

White finished sixth in 2007, and for most of that season, he looked to be a serious candidate on an undefeated team.

“Going into the 2007 Pitt game, ESPN came in and we filmed some things with Pat ahead of the Heisman Trophy award ceremony in December,” said Mike Montoro, WVU’s longtime football publicity director. “But then the Pitt game happened (13-9) and our trip to the national championship game and our trip to New York didn’t happen.”

With a website backing him entitled, he finished seventh in 2008.

West Virginia has a long history of pushing its players for Heisman, All-American and other honors, dating to 1955 when the university produced films extolling the talents of quarterback Fred Wyant, running back Joe Marconi and offensive lineman Bruce Bosley, who became an All-American that year.

Not long after that, sports information director Eddie Barrett tried in vain to get Sports Illustrated writer Jeremiah Tax to visit and do a story on Jerry West. No matter how much Barrett begged, Tax declined saying it was too difficult to travel to Morgantown in the late 1950s, according to a story on the Grier website.

In 1989, after quarterback and Brashear graduate Major Harris finished fifth the previous year, WVU SID Shelly Poe sent weekly postcards to Heisman voters. It almost worked. Harris finished third — the highest finish for a WVU player — behind Andre Ware and Anthony Thompson.

West Virginia has pushed many players for the Heisman, including wide receiver Danny Buggs (1973-74) running back Steve Slaton (sixth in 2006) and wide receiver Tavon Austin (eighth in 2012).

You must give WVU props for fairness in the Grier campaign. They also list three other preseason Heisman hopefuls — running backs Bryce Love of Stanford and Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin and quarterback McKenzie Milton of Central Florida. Plus, several of Grier’s teammates are mentioned on the Website as top players at their positions, including safety Dravon Askew-Henry of Aliquippa.

Grier, a transfer from Florida, set himself up for Heisman hype last season when he threw for 3,490 and 34 touchdowns (one short of a multiple of 7).

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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