Defense Takes A Hit

When Robert Sands entered the interview room at the Citrus Bowl following West Virginia's loss to N.C. State in the Champs Sports Bowl, he carried a clue that it might have been his final game in a Mountaineer uniform.

Robert Sands, who earned all-Big East and All-America Honors, was toting his Nike Pro Combat helmet, along with two pairs of the distinctive gold shoes that went with the uniform. When asked if that signaled his intent to turn pro following his junior season, he laughed, but said that his decison was still to be made.

Less than two weeks later, that signal proved to be correct, however, when his departure for the NFL was confirmed.

"I want to pursue my dream and play in the NFL, so I have entered my name in the NFL Draft," Sands said in a released statement. "I believe I have proven myself as a playmaker at the college level, and now it's time for me to turn my attention to the professional level and prove myself once again."

Sands collected 53 tackles in 2010, including 34 solo stops, 1.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. He finished with a forced fumble and had one interception he returned 28 yards against USF.

"The Mountaineer football family wishes Robert nothing but the best," coach Bill Stewart said. "He has been an integral part of our success, and I want to thank him for everything he has done for Mountaineer football."

For his three-year career, Sands registered 151 tackles, including 88 unassisted tackles, 1.5 sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss. He forced two fumbles, one fumble recovery, six interceptions and eight pass breakups.

In his released statement, Sands also issued thanks to many in the WVU program.

"I would like to thank all my teammates at West Virginia, especially the defensive guys, from the starters down to the scout team," Sands said. "I want to thank the coaches, who have really done an outstanding job of pushing me to be the best I can be and get the most out of me. "I want to thank the strength coaches, the trainers, the equipment managers, the sports information staff and the Mountaineer fans who showed so much love and support to me and our team.

"I want to especially thank my mother, Veronica Sands, who has stood by me my entire life and been there for me every step of the way. I wish only the best for the University and the Mountaineer football family in the future, and I always will continue to show my support."

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