West Virginia Football: Which Mountaineers Have Best Shot at NFL Success?

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West Virginia Football: Which Mountaineers Have Best Shot at NFL Success?
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Dana Holgorsen (front) hopes to prepare his talented roster for NFL stardom

With the No. 11 ranking in the college football polls, the West Virginia Mountaineers have plenty of talent as they head into the 2012-2013 season.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen's team is in its first year in the Big 12, a conference with six teams in the Top 25 and a significant amount of future NFL players.

The Mountaineers should have no problem keeping up, as only the Oklahoma Sooners, No. 4 in the AP and USA Today polls, have a higher ranking going into the season among Big 12 teams.

Though the Mountaineers long have had tremendous skill on both sides of the ball, they have struggled to churn out elite NFL players.

Bruce Irvin was a first-round selection in the 2012 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks, and although many thought this was a reach, Irvin has the skills to prove that he was worth the early pick.

Irvin was the first West Virginia first-round pick since Adam "Pacman" Jones went sixth overall to the Titans in 2005.

Pacman's career was marked by misbehavior and legal troubles, as the defensive back proved to be more of a rapper than a model NFL player. Jones struggled to stay on one team, bouncing around from the Titans to the Dallas Cowboys before settling in Cincinnatti, where he remains part of the cornerback rotation.

But Jones has not lived up to his hype, as has been the case with another Mountaineer, Miami Dolphins running back Steve Slaton.

Slaton gained over 1,000 yards in an impressive rookie season for the Texans but since then has not found his groove. He experienced fumbling issues which sent him to the bench, and the former third-round pick has struggled to regain his form.

Slaton's star teammate, Pat White, has not seen the field since a head-on collision versus Pittsburgh in 2010 put his playing days in doubt.

The university also received tragic news when Chris Henry, then a Bengals receiver with high hopes for his NFL career, died suddenly after a truck incident involving a domestic dispute.

Of these former players, Bruce Irvin is the most likely to succeed at the NFL level, with he and former fullback Owen Schmitt likely to see the field while the others struggle in backup roles.

This 2012-2013 team has as much ability as any Mountaineer team in the school's history. It will be interesting to see if the trend of West Virginia players not performing at the pro level continues or is wiped away by this strong bunch of upperclassmen.

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