CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- LAST WEEK, Martinsburg's Eugene German won the Hunt Award, given annually to the top high school football lineman in West Virginia.As I looked over the past award winners, it struck me that the Hunt Award winners, more than many other state awards, have a history of signing with major-college programs. I don't know about them all, but here are some that I remember:
Denny Ballard, DuPont, 1978: I'm not sure I have seen many better athletes in our state than Ballard. He was a big, athletic tight end with great speed. He was recruited by everyone in the country and eventually signed with Jackie Sherrill of Pitt during the Dan Marino/Hugh Green era.
Brad Hunt, Ripley, 1982: After playing at Ripley, Hunt went on to a stellar career at WVU, where he was a disruptive defensive lineman from 1984-87. He had 178 career tackles, including 111/2 sacks.
Rick Katzeff, Charleston, 1969: Katzeff was a standout on the great Mountain Lions teams of the late 1960s. He went on to play at the University of Cincinnati and has had a long career in health care in the Tampa-Clearwater area in Florida.
Bill Legg, Poca, 1979: Legg was Don Nehlen's first recruit when he became WVU's head coach in 1980. He had an outstanding playing career in Morgantown and is a longtime college coach. Legg is currently the offensive coordinator at Marshall.
Doug Legursky, Woodrow Wilson, 2003: He was discovered in summer camp by Bob Pruett and went on to start a lot of games at Marshall. He is still playing in the NFL with the Steelers and has been to two Super Bowls.
John Leon, Brooke, 1975: A dominant state lineman, he went on to Notre Dame after playing for the Bruins.
Ron McCartney, Stonewall Jackson, 1971: McCartney went to be a college star at Tennessee, where he was a captain. He was drafted early in the second round by the Rams in 1976 and played in the NFL for three seasons.
Mark Moore, Stonewall Jackson, 1986: He played 15 years after McCartney but had a similar career. Moore was a dominant player for Moe Towson and the Generals. After high school, he also went on to play for Tennessee.
Joe Pendry, Oceana, 1965: Pendry was one of the best multi-sport athletes in state history and was ticketed to play football and basketball at WVU. His career was cut short by injury, but he went into coaching and became one of the best offensive line coaches in college football and the NFL. He helped Nick Saban win his first national championship at Alabama.
Dave, Larry and Rick Phillips, Parkersburg: A royal family of linemen in the state, Dave won the Hunt in 1976, Larry in 1977 and Rick in 1983. Dave and Larry signed with Ohio State while Rick went on to play at WVU.
Jason Rader, St. Albans, 1997: Heavily recruited as a Red Dragon, Rader signed with Jim Donnan and Georgia. He transferred to Marshall for his final two seasons. He was on and off the practice squad and active rosters of the Falcons, Dolphins and Patriots from 2004-2009.
Dick Roberts, Welch, 1966: One of many great players from McDowell County in the 1960s, Roberts went on to be a starter at center for WVU. His older brother Don was a great center for Army in the early 1960s.
Luke Salmons, Ravenswood, 1998: Salmons was very under-recruited out of Ravenswood. I always felt if he had gone to prep school for a year, that extra year might have given him a shot at the NFL. He walked on at Marshall, earned a scholarship and had a great career for Pruett. He is now the head coach at Cabell Midland.
Brian Swisher, Sistersville, 1981: He would have been the smallest player to win the award as a 5-foot-6 wide receiver for Lou Nocida. He was a three-time all-state athlete and went on to become a fan favorite as a receiver and a return man for Sonny Randle and Stan Parrish at Marshall.