Looking at impact walk-ons for West Virginia football over the years

Admittedly this is far from a complete list, that would be nearly impossible. But WVSports.com looks back at just a handful of the walk-on players that have made impacts with the West Virginia football program over the years.

This list is designed for those players that started their careers as walk-ons even if they were eventually put on scholarship later on.

Braham is the gold-standard for walk-ons with the West Virginia Mountaineers football program.

Offensive lineman Rich Braham – 1990-93

Perhaps the most decorated name on this list, Braham was a product of University High School and walked on at West Virginia where he became a standout offensive line. Braham made 37 starts at left tackle for the Mountaineers during his career and was a senior captain during his final season. The epitome of toughness, Braham battled multiple injuries en route to a career in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Fullback Owen Schmitt — 2005-07

Schmitt just wanted an opportunity — any opportunity to showcase what he could do at the next level after playing at Wisconsin River Falls, a D-III program. He found that at West Virginia where he not only proved he could play at this level but became an integral piece to the Mountaineers run from 2005-07. Over his career he rushed for 1,003 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding 288 receiving yards and two scores. And those totals don’t even include the holes that he opened for Pat White and Steve Slaton.

LB Najee Goode — 2008-11

Goode walked on at West Virginia from Cleveland and had to earn his role over the course of his first couple seasons but played a much bigger role in his final two seasons. Goode appeared in 56 games during his career and started for the final two seasons at SAM and then MIKE linebacker. Goode finished his career with 142 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions before going on to play for multiple NFL teams. He was last with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

WR Zach Abraham — 1991-94

The Triadelphia native walked on at West Virginia and while it took him some time to get settled in appearing only in one game during his first two years, he saw things increase in his third season with 10 catches for 174 yards and a score. But it was his final year that made him a legend in many eyes due to a successful campaign with 41 catches for 752 yards and 6 touchdowns including the 60-yard touchdown to beat Pitt in 1994 in the final seconds after the Mountaineers had blown the lead.

K Paul Woodside — 1981-84

Woodside is another member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame but his career originally started as a walk-on from Falls Church, Virginia. Over his four year career Woodside would go on to rewrite the West Virginia kicking record book, setting school records for scoring (323 points), field goals (74) and field goals attempted (93). He also hit 79.6-percent of his field goal attempts. A first-team all-American, he will forever be remembered for a lot of things including his fourth quarter field goal to lead the Mountaineers over Penn State in 1984.

LB Scott Gyorko — 2001-04

A University product that walked on at West Virginia after not receiving any offers out of high school and certainly made the most of his college experience. Gyorko started his career as a backup but moved into a starting role where he finished his four-year career with 222 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles.

LB Ben Collins — 1998-2002

Collins came to West Virginia as a walk-on after a stellar career at North Marion where he was known more for his offensive talents. In Morgantown he would play defense and after developing his body found himself as a starter during his senior season with 98 tackles and 4 tackles for loss as well as an interception. He also was the player that got his mitts to thwart the game-winning pass attempt by Pittsburgh in the 2002 Brawl.

FB Moe Fofana — 2001-03

Entered the program as a walk-on out of Maryland and while he eventually earned a scholarship for his efforts impressed as a blocker during the course of his career. Fofana only touched the ball five times for 28 yards and a touchdown during his time in Morgantown but earned the respect and trust of many due to his blocking.

WR Grantis Bell — 1985-88

Bell was recruited from South Florida initially as a walk-on so he makes the list although he was put on scholarship early into his career. He played all four years hauling in 46 passes for 819 yards and six touchdowns including a touchdown grab in the Fiesta Bowl for the Mountaineers.

LB Justin Arndt — 2013-16

Arndt started his career as a walk-on from Martinsburg and played a role on special teams and has a reserve through the first three years with the Mountaineers. But in his final season, Arndt elevated his game and earned a starting role where he would account for 84 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks performing admirably.

DB Rich Rodriguez — 1982-84

Rodriguez is known much more for what happened after his playing days once he became a head coach but he spent three years on the field for the Mountaineers and made a significant play in the Penn State game in 1984 recording an interception. He finished his career with 53 tackles and 3 picks. Rodriguez would go on to coach the Mountaineers before controversially leaving for Michigan.


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