MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A 2016 graduate of Moorefield High School in Hardy County, West Virginia, Wil Schoonover traded his football, wrestling, and baseball uniforms for a U.S. Army uniform after graduating.

Schoonover, now a senior linebacker on the West Virginia University football team, served three years in the Army.

A former walk-on who didn’t see the field in 2021, Schoonover saw game action for the first time earlier this year against Towson.

It was announced Tuesday that the West Virginia native is a finalist for the 2022 Armed Forces Merit Award. The award honors an individual or group with a military background that has an impact within the realm of college football.

He is one of six individual finalists, and one of just eight finalists overall.

Schoonover was deployed to Afghanistan in 2017 and was a member of the 4-25th Infantry Brigade, and the 3-509th Airborne Infantry Battalion.

According to the Armed Forces Merit Award website, WVU head coach Neal Brown wrote a letter to the organization supporting Schoonover’s nomination.

In the letter, Brown stated that Schoonover’s “leadership qualities and mature attitude have been a positive influence on our program. Wil attacks his day with energy and a positive outlook that has not only made him a favorite of his teammates, but to West Virginia fans. Part of your award is based on community service and Will knows the importance of this civic responsibility and never lets us down. He knows how to better a person, how to motivate, and how to connect with people of all ages.”

As a high school athlete, Schoonover rushed for more than 5,000 yards for the Yellow Jackets football team, and was voted a captain of the annual North-South All-Star Game. Between his high school football, wrestling, and baseball careers, he earned 10 all-state honors, including three at linebacker.

Schoonover served in the U.S. Army from 2017 through 2020, after which he enrolled at Potomac State University.