MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A history maker for the WVU football program was enshrined in the WVU Sports Hall of Fame Saturday.
In 1962, Richard “Dick” Leftridge, a native of Hinton, West Virginia, became the first Black student-athlete to receive a football scholarship from WVU. Nearly 60 years later, Leftridge was inducted into the school’s athletics hall of fame as a member of its 2020 class.
“My father was not only the first Black scholarship athlete here at WVU, but throughout the entire South,” said Jeff Leftridge, who accepted the hall of fame honor Saturday on his late father’s behalf. “Now please, think about this for a minute — that’s some real history. That’s our history. That’s Mountaineer history that should be shared with the world.”
Leftridge and teammate Roger Alford broke the color barrier for WVU football and the Southern Conference in 1963.
Leftridge continued to make history during his three seasons with the Mountaineers. He rushed for 1,701 yards in his career, became the first Black player to appear for the South in the North-South Shrine Game and was selected third overall in the 1966 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
No Mountaineer has ever been selected higher in the draft.
“Let’s consider this: first round, third pick, first offensive player in the draft of ’66, so what does that tell us? Best running back in the country, without a doubt, and that story needs to be shared,” Jeff Leftridge said.
Leftridge played one season for the Steelers in 1966. He died in 2004.