“Football taught me how to be tough”: New WVU Sports HOFer Noel Devine reflects on life, collegiate career

WVU Football

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – One of the most accomplished running backs in West Virginia University football history was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Noel Devine, who graduated as the program’s career all-purpose yardage leader, is now officially enshired alongside the other all-time greats in Mountaineer football and athletics lore.

“On behalf of me and my family, I want to say thank you guys for inducting me into the Hall of Fame,” Devine said Saturday morning during his acceptance speech. “I cherish and honor this moment.”

Devine was an integral part of the Mountaineer victory in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma. The same pre-game speech by former head coach Bill Stewart that has inspired WVU fans ever since also inspired the running back, who rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns on that memorable night.

“Before the game, coach [Stewart] told us, ‘leave no doubt.’ And that’s what we did,” Devine said.

Stewart, who went 28-12 in his time as interim and head coach of the Mountaineers, left a lasting impression on Devine.

“Even though coach Stew isn’t here, I want to give recognition to coach Stew for the impact that he had on my life,” said Devine, who also thanked other coaches, along with his academic mentor.

The Fort Myers, Florida, native began his Hall of Fame induction speech by detailing how his grandmother, along with the game of football, helped shape his life, especially following the loss of his mother at an early age.

“Football became an outlet in my life, to where I could express the pain that I was feeling for my loss,” Devine said. “Football taught me how to be tough. You get knocked down, you get back up.”

Football continued to teach him lessons during his playing days at WVU. It was at that point in his life that the former unanimous All-Big East First Team selection changed his perspective on academics. Despite his poor academic reputation in high school, WVU took a chance on the talented running back, and provided him an opportunity for growth in areas away from the game.

Devine took advantage: he returned to WVU after his football career ended to complete his degree in 2019.

“When I was here, I learned the blue collar work ethic, and gold standard mentality,” he said.

Devine was a three-year starter in Morgantown, racking up a program-best 5,761 all-purpose yards, and finishing his collegiate career with 4,315 rushing yards. Devine ranks in the top 10 in numerous program career and single-season marks.

He logged 19 100-yard rushing games in his career, along with 12 runs of 50 yards or more, 28 runs of 30 yards or more, and 36 runs of 25 yards or more.

Devine recorded 1,254 all-purpose yards during his senior season, which gave him 1,000 or more yards in all four years of his collegiate career. That season, he was WVU’s lead back, tallying 934 rushing yards on 208 carries with six touchdowns. Devine was also the Mountaineers’ third-leading receiver, hauling in 34 catches for 258 yards and a touchdown.

After college, Devine enjoyed a three-year stint in the Canadian Football League. He is one of seven athletes inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame as part of its 2021 class.

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