MORGANTOWN — Considered one of the best defenders in WVU history, former linebacker Darryl Talley had his No. 90 retired Saturday between the 1st and 2nd quarters at Milan Puskar Stadium.
He joins Ira Errett Rodgers (21), Sam Huff (75) and Bruce Bosley (77) as current retired numbers, showcased in the north end zone. Major Harris will have his No. 9 retired later this season during the Oklahoma State game Nov. 6.
Talley played for the Mountaineers from 1978-82, helping bring in a new era, moving from Old Mountaineer Field to the new stadium in 1980, as well as helping coach Don Nehlen at the start of his tenure.
“The ’77, ’78 and ’79 classes were the three years I think actually turned West Virginia into West Virginia, and those guys, we all put it on the line for each other and did what we had to do for each other,” Talley said.
He totaled 282 tackles, 202 assisted tackles, 28 tackles for loss and 19 sacks in his career, eventually being drafted No. 39 overall to the Buffalo Bills, where he had a 12-year NFL stint before ending his career with the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.
Known as a hard-nosed linebacker, Talley was an all-pro twice and was also named to two Pro Bowls. He played in four Super Bowls, though he never got the win.
He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
“I’m just truly happy that I finally got to the summit of what it is in college and that’s what I consider this to be — the highest honor you can get,” Talley said. “And I’m just very proud of it.”
Current defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor wears No. 90 and will finish out his career with it, which head coach Neal Brown said is a stellar coincidence.
“I think its fitting that a guy that’s playing at an extremely high level will be the last one to wear 90 here,” Brown said. “Akheem is wearing it now and he’ll continue to wear it as he finishes up his career. I think Darryl would be pretty proud of how Akheem has played in that number so far this year.”
On the Mountaineers’ final drive with 18 seconds left after Texas Tech took a 23-20 lead, returner Winston Wright, who had several long returns this season including a touchdown vs. Long Island, took a knee at the 11-yard line.
In appeared to be an odd decision considering Wright’s ability, but Brown said there is a method to the madness.
“You don’t want to return that when it’s on the ground. Once it’s squibbed, you don’t have a really good chance to get it any further than the 30,” Brown said. “You take a knee there to save time. That’s the thought process, it’s a good play. You all can argue with me on other things but that’s a good play.”