Family Man

Defensive end Bruce Irvin is the latest in a line of West Virginia football players that made the leap from star to folk hero in the Mountain State, but he's just one of a number of players WVU fans have taken to heart during their careers. We caught up with one of his predecessors, Wes Ours, and found that he's truly living the dream following a solid Arena League career.

At West Virginia, Ours didn't put up big numbers. His career totals show 30 carries for 83 yards and four scores, complemented by 15 receptions for 199 yards and another two touchdowns. Those are numbers that wouldn't threaten to put him on any all-star teams, but Ours had something else going for him that made him a fan favorite. He was a big guy, a former guard who checked in at around 260 pounds, and when he carried the ball he didn't run, he rumbled. It wasn't that Ours was slow – he had nimble feet and moved with good speed, especially given his size. There was just something about watching the big guy with the barrel torso thunder down the field that tickled fans and made him into a player that will be remembered long after many that piled up bigger statistical numbers.

Don't get the impression, though, that Ours was simply a novelty. He was a thunderous blocker in WVU's power offense, and in his senior season, he was a major factor in the Mountaineers' run to a Music City Bowl win. His 40-yard swing pass catch and run against Mississippi in that game, punctuated by a flying dive into the end zone for WVU's first score, set the tone for Don Nehlen's farewell win and broke the school's 16-year winless streak in bowls. But there's no doubt that, along with that play, he'll be remembered more for the way he performed than what he actually did. And he's fine with that.

"Being a big guy, running over guys carrying the ball, I think that was what the fans liked," he recalled. "When I was playing, though, I didn't think about it. I just wanted to win. Whatever position you put me in or whatever role you gave me, I did it. Whatever the team needed, I was going to do."

Ours parlayed that outlook into a solid career with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, capping his career with a title.

"I played for Philadelphia, which was owned by Jon Bon Jovi and Ron Jaworski, and we won the Arena Bowl game my last year. Then the league folded. I was called a few times to come back now that the league is running again, but I kinda tell everybody that I am retired. I do miss football a lot, the camaraderie with the guys in the locker room, but I had the chance to come home and be with my family, and that made it easier."

Stepping out of the spotlight isn't an easy task for some, but Ours, who certainly appreciated all of the attention he received as a player, made the adjustment readily. With two sons heavily involved in sports, he's doing some coaching in his current home in Keyser, W. Va., and making sure they get to all of their activities.

"I'm coaching a peewee football team here, and I help out with baseball coaching too," said Ours. "My boys play football and baseball and wrestle, but I didn't put an pressure on them to compete or play. Getting them around to all of their activities makes for a busy time, but I love watching my kids play and do things. That's one of the best parts about me being a dad."

Although Ours clearly isn't affected by "Glory Days" syndrome, he admits that that catch and run against Mississippi still draws some attention. However, very little of that comes from his sons, who view him as a father and coach more than a WVU legend.

"There will be times when I'll be out and around my friends and they will bring up the play and run. They'll pick on me about it and have some fun with it. It's great – something I don't think I'll ever let go.

"With my sons, we've seen it on the JumboTron at West Virginia, but my youngest knows more about my time in the Arena League than my career at WVU. My oldest, I don't think I've ever showed it to him on tape or anything, but he knows I played at West Virginia, and when we come back for games I know he's seen it."

Ours is clearly content with being a family man as his children grow up, but he also has some aspirations as they move up the ladder.

"I don't want to miss these years, but I also would like to be able to move into coaching high school or college as my kids grow up," he said. "My goal in coaching is to be able to teach kids how to be great young men, and to help them further their careers."

Hailing from the region where the Maryland and West Virginia panhandles abut, Ours thinks there is some overlooked talent to be mined. WVU kicked off its 2012 recruiting class with Jarrod Harper from Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg, Md., and Ours believes there are more players in the area that can play Division I football.

"I think, in the panhandles here, you have sort of a big fish in a little pond situation," he said. "There aren't a lot of great players, but the ones you get are really positive kids. Taige Redman from Keyser is one of those types. There are a handful of kids that will work hard to get there, that will find a way to play hard and get on field."

That path somewhat mimics Ours' path to WVU.

"I didn't get a lot of attention here, he recalled. "I sent out some film, and I had a lot of small school offers, but when West Virginia came through it was a great feeling. Being able to play close to home was great, and I felt that with as hard as I worked I thought that I could play."

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