Noel Devine: The Final Chapter of a West Virginia Legend

RG YohoCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2010

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Running back Noel Devine #7 of the West Virginia Mountaineers smiles prior to taking on the University of South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium September 28, 2007 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

On National Letter of Intent Day, West Virginia brought a number of outstanding players into the program. However, as important as that was to the Mountaineers’ future, its significance paled in comparison to the one player who willingly chose to stay in the program.

Citing “unfinished business on the field and in the classroom” and joining his friend, fellow Floridian, Jock Sanders in the decision, Noel Devine stated that he would return for his senior season.

With the announcement that Devine would play out his collegiate eligibility at WVU, the Mountaineers’ yearly goal of a conference championship and dreams of a BCS title were instantly lifted.

Of all the players ever recruited by West Virginia, Devine might very well have been the most highly regarded athlete listed by the national recruiting services to ever wear the gold and blue.

A YouTube sensation while he was still in high school, Noel’s game highlights would leave people breathless. This young man seemingly had it all—the speed, the moves, and the ability to take the ball to the end zone on every play.

Several of the finest athletic programs in the country wanted Devine; West Virginia signed him.

Noel’s critics would routinely point to a number of character issues and bad decisions that the young man experienced in his personal life. Some of his detractors unfairly stated that Devine would never stay out of trouble with the law or follow through with his work in the classroom.

With both of his parents dead from tragic circumstances, there was every reason for Noel to take the wrong paths in life. However, he chose a different journey for his future.

Noel Devine has certainly proved his critics wrong.

Moreover, every single one of these individuals owes him an apology.

Since his first interview at the university, Noel has shown himself to be a soft-spoken young man with a good attitude. He has been extremely humble and polite in his media contacts.

Devine has been complimentary of those players who were in the starting lineup ahead of him. And when he became an upperclassman, he became a leader on and off the field, instructing the younger players in much the same way that others first helped him along.

Now he wants to earn his college degree and help bring a national championship to Morgantown.

It is entirely rare when any young man, possessing Noel’s obvious talents, passes up the immediate lure of a lucrative NFL paycheck in order to follow through on his education.

Despite its rarity, that is the route that Noel Devine has wisely chosen.

With his decision, Noel has joined Mountaineer legend and former teammate Pat White in giving Mountaineer fans their full measure of devotion.

Not only will Noel Devine go down in the annals of Mountaineer history as one of its greatest running backs ever, he will also be regarded as one the program’s finest young men.

As a loyal Mountaineer fan, I wish Noel Devine nothing but the best in this upcoming football season and in his academic pursuits. I hope he sees every single one of his dreams come to fruition.

May the upcoming football season bring Noel a conference championship, a BCS title, and the Heisman Trophy. In addition, it is my hope that Devine may actually obtain that elusive college degree and enjoy a productive NFL career.

There is no question that these are all lofty goals.

However, Noel Devine has repeatedly overcome many obstacles in his short time on this earth.

You might not want to count him out on these goals, as well.