Gator Bowl: Two WVU Defensive Starters Will Not Play

Scott PauleyAnalyst IDecember 25, 2009

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 13:  Scooter Berry #93 of the West Virginia Mountaineers celebrates after a funble recovery on the one yard line in the second quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats in at Nippert Stadium on November 13, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

West Virginia starting safety, Nate Sowers and defensive lineman, Scooter Berry will miss the 2010 Gator bowl due to academic failure.

According to fall semester grades released on Dec.23, neither player has met the NCAA eligibility requirements for athletes and will not be permitted to participate in the highly touted New Year’s Day match-up between the Mountaineers and the Florida State Seminoles.

Sowers, a former West Virginia state high school player of the year and quarterback for Martinsburg High School, began his college career on the offensive side of the ball, but was moved to safety midway through the 2007 season.

Sowers, previously named to the WVU Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll, was named as a starter for the ’09 season.

Berry, a former All-State player in New York and half-brother to former Mountaineer, Jason Gwaltney, was originally a defensive end for WVU, before being named starting defensive lineman.

Berry won the 2006 Danny Van Elton award as the scout player of the year on defense.

In the 2008 preseason Berry was named to the second-team All-BIG EAST defensive line by Lindy’s Football Magazine and third-team All-BIG EAST by Athlon Sports.

Both players have been quite productive during their time in Morgantown and have had their fair share of bowl experiences.

Sowers and Berry have been to the ’07 Gator bowl, the ’08 Fiesta Bowl, and the ’08 Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Sowers was also a part of the ’06 Sugar Bowl team.

It is unfortunate that these young men will not be able to be a part of history, as this is the final game that Bobby Bowden will coach for the Seminoles.

Sowers’ position will most likely be filled with experienced senior, Boogie Allen, who knows well the importance of this start, having been a former starter himself.

Jorge Wright, Josh Taylor, and Larry Ford will all likely see playing time in Berry’s spot.

Neither of the losses will be huge for the Mountaineers. 

However, for these two players, it will leave quite a void, especially for Sowers—a senior—who has played his last collegiate football game.

Berry has one more year of eligibility.