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Former UHS, WVU standouts Rich Braham and Jedd Gyorko among class of OVAC Legends

WHEELING — Three honored prep and college athletes, including two who played professionally, plus a highly successful high school coach and honored prep athlete will be recognized in the 18th class of Legends of Ohio Valley Athletic Conference schools.

The five Legends selections will be feted at the 19th annual OVAC Hall of Fame banquet on Saturday, August 12 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.

The honorees include Rich Braham, a University High football all-stater, an All-American at West Virginia University and a 13-year NFL player; Mike DeVol, a 38-year head football coach in both Ohio and West Virginia; Jedd Gyorko, a University High two-sport all-stater, four-year baseball regular at WVU and eight-season major leaguer; Cyril Letzelter, a Martins Ferry High and all-time great Carnegie Tech football star; and Jim Presley, a two-sport all-stater and most-honored Brilliant High athlete.

The OVAC Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Robinson Automotive Group of Wheeling, and the OVAC Sports Museum are located inside WesBanco Arena.

The Legends of OVAC schools honor athletes and coaches who competed prior to the conference start in 1943 or while their schools were not OVAC members.

Capsule summaries of the Legends’ honorees follow:

RICH BRAHAM (University, Class of 1989) — He was a Hawks’ football and basketball standout who was honored in the first class of UHS Hall of Fame selections.

In football, the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder was selected 1st-Team Class AA All-State defensive lineman as a senior after a 2nd-Team junior honor at offensive end. He later was named MVP of the annual W.Va. North-South All-Star game.

In basketball, he was a two-time Class AA second-team All-State selection.

A walk-on who earned a West Virginia University scholarship, he was named team MVP and earned All-America recognition on Kodak, UPI and Associated Press teams after helping WVU to its second unbeaten (11-0) regular season in school history. The All-Big East selection made 37 starts from 1990-93 including every game as a senior captain.

He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Picked in the 3rd Round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals before being traded that season to the Cincinnati Bengals, he played 13 seasons (146 games, including 142 starts) with the last 98 starts at center after an early career at left guard. Injuries forced his retirement.

He resides in the Morgantown area.

JEDD GYORKO (University, Class of 2007) — He was a six-time Hawk all-stater in baseball and basketball who earned 10 All-America baseball honors at West Virginia University before playing eight major league seasons.

A three-sport prep standout who was inducted in the charter UHS Hall of Fame class of 2018, he was a quarterback/wide receiver in football, a shooting guard in basketball and primarily a baseball shortstop. He also played four years of American Legion summer baseball and helped the team win two state titles.

In baseball, he was All-Conference four years and a three-time Class AAA all-stater, twice 1st team plus 2nd team as a sophomore infielder.

In basketball, the 5-foot-10 guard earned all-state three times — 1st team as a senior, 2nd team as a junior and 3rd team as a sophomore. His point averages were 18.5, 17.3 and 19.0 per game and he set a school career record for 3-point goals.

At WVU, he was a three-year baseball honoree including Big East Rookie of the Year and 2nd-Team All-American while setting numerous school records. In 2010, he won the Brooks Wallace Award as NCAA Best Shortstop and was a 2nd-round draft choice of the San Diego Padres after his junior year. In three years, he set school career records for batting average (.404), doubles (73), extra-base hits (113) and tied records for career home runs (35) and season home runs (19). He also set four-season school records.

After three minor league seasons, he played eight years (2013-20) in the majors, mostly as a third base starter for the Padres, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers. He batted .245 with 121 home runs and 370 RBIs.

The Morgantown-area resident served as manager of the minor league West Virginia Black Bears from 2021-22.

MIKE DEVOL (Caldwell, Class of 1967) — He served as a head football coach for 38 years at four schools, including three current OVAC members. The Glenville State graduate had an overall coaching record of 267-125-2, including 155-77-2 in two stints at Caldwell from 1974-93 and 2008-10. He coached eight seasons at Warren Local, five years at Parkersburg South and ended with two seasons (2018-19) at Belpre.

His teams made eight post-season appearances including five W.Va. Class AAA berths for South, including a 2003 state title and 2002 state runner-up, plus three postseason berths at Caldwell in Ohio Division V/VI. His 2003 South team went 13-1 with a 26-20 state championship win over Martinsburg. The 2002 South state runner-up team went 12-2.

A multiple Eastern District Coach of the Year, the last in 2010, DeVol earlier was inducted into three Halls of Fame — the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall plus Parkersburg South Football Hall and Caldwell Athletic Hall of Fame.

He resides in Caldwell.

CYRIL LETZELTER (Martins Ferry, Class of 1925) — One of Ferry’s most celebrated players in the early era of Purple Rider football, he was regarded as the best fullback in the Ohio Valley and also excelled as a defensive back and punter/placekicker.

During his junior season, he scored 102 of his team’s 188 points with 14 touchdowns, 3 field goals and 9 conversions. Team captain as a senior, his all-star accolades included captain of the All-Valley and All-Eastern Ohio teams.

He went on to play football for former Ferry coach Earl Loucks at Carnegie Tech, then a major program, and is the only Valley native selected to an All-Time Team at the college now called Carnegie-Mellon University. At Tech, he scored a touchdown against Notre Dame in 1926 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh in a game regarded as one of the all-time major college upsets. He earned All-America honors in 1928, along with famed future coaches Knute Rockne and Glenn “Pop” Warner, from the International Board of Football Coaches.

He also played a year for Army at West Point before an age-eligibility question was posed. He later served as an assistant coach at Army until 1941.

He was inducted into the Martins Ferry Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.

JIM PRESLEY (Brilliant, Class of 1960) — A three-sport, four-year prep standout, the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder is the only Brilliant High athlete to earn 1st-Team All-Ohio honors in both football and basketball.

In football, the senior two-way end and fullback earned 1st-Team Associated Press All-Ohio Class A as an offensive end, 1st-Team All-Ohio Valley ‘Small School” as an end; 1st-Team All-Eastern Ohio, and 1st-Team All-Eastern District. He was also named Jaycees’ All-Ohio and Steubenville area Athlete of the Year by the Herald-Star newspaper. He was a two-time All-Eastern Ohio choice.

He helped Brilliant to a second-straight 8-1 record season while scoring 15 TDs and 24 conversion runs (11 PAT receptions) for 114 points. He led the Ohio Valley in TD receptions with a then-OV record 13 and in reception yards (992) on 43 receptions, high numbers for that era. On defense, he returned a pass interception 100 yards for a TD.

In basketball, he was selected 1st-Team Associated Press All-Ohio Class A and 1st-Team All-Eastern District. As a junior, he earned honorable mention All-Ohio Class A. He ended his career with a school record of 1,564 points, including 540 as a senior, and set a single-game mark with 46 points vs. Yorkville. He also competed as a weightman, with shot put and discus, on the track team.

He was recruited by several colleges and signed with West Virginia University, where he competed as a regular end on the freshman team.


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