He was a man for all seasons.
Pick one, anyone.
Bill Underdonk had it covered.
After starring at Moundsville High School, Underdonk went on to have a standout career at West Virginia University. In fact, he was part of the most famous offensive line in Mountaineer history.
In the 1955 season, WVU’s offensive line included Sam Huff, Bruce Bosley, Chuck Howley and Underdonk. Talk about a who’s who. Underdonk was listed at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds and played tackle or end on offense and defense.
The 1955 Mountaineers were loaded with talent and it showed in the NFL draft. The first three rounds were selected on Nov. 28, 1955 in Philadelphia.
Bosley, a tackle who eventually moved to center, was a second-round selection (No. 15 overall). Next came Huff, who converted from offensive line to middle linebacker and was a third-round pick by the New York Giants (No. 30 overall). Mountaineer quarterback Fred Wyant also was selected in the third round by the Washington Redskins.
The next 27 rounds of the draft occurred on Jan. 17-18, 1956, in Los Angeles.
Three more Mountaineers were selected, including Underdonk in the 11th round by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 133 overall pick. He played just part of one season in the NFL.
That’s when Underdonk moved into the other seasons of his life. There was his marriage to his wonderful wife, Delores, who was Bill’s high school sweetheart. Next, they raised six children in Huntington and then more grandkids than Bill could throw his ever-present smile at.
All the while he worked at 84 Lumber until retirement.
Underdonk possessed an uncommon personal magnetism. People were just naturally drawn to him. Particularly, a sports writer like me. I adored listening to his old stories and funny anecdotes. All Bill needed was an audience and I was a ready volunteer.
That’s why we’re going to miss Bill Underdonk so very greatly. He was so much to so many. But we lost him this week at the age of 86.
Fly high, Bill. And don’t miss that block on the end.
n SO LONG, COACH: This has been one tough week. The local sports world also lost longtime Stonewall Jackson High School head football coach Bill Jarrett, who passed away.
I must admit, Jarrett was one of my favorite coaches. His droll way of talking and the way he could keep a straight face while saying the funniest things was legendary.
So was his coaching.
No Kanawha County coach ever had a worse practice field than Jarrett. It was situated under the railroad bridge adjacent to Kanawha Boulevard. It was pitiful, and so was the locker room. But with Jarrett’s usual good humor and the help of assistants such as Moe Townson and Roger Jefferson, the Generals persevered.
I never will forget Jarrett’s off-the-cuff comment, saying, “He’s as dumb as an owl.”
Mull that one over.
Bill Jarrett was one of a kind. He will be missed greatly.
n TOUGH WEEK: Besides such Mountaineers as Underdonk and Jarrett, WVU also lost well-known former quarterback Fred Wyant, who passed away on March 20.
Wyant quarterbacked the outstanding 1955 WVU team.