WVU To Induct Seven Into Hall Of Fame

Seven outstanding contributors to Mountaineer athletics make up the 17th class of honorees in the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame, announced today by athletic director Ed Pastilong.

The 2007 class includes Rich Braham, Jerry Holmes, Tom Lowry, Harry "Moo" Moore, Robert "Bob" Moss, Fred "Jack" Simons and Georgeann Wells. Induction ceremonies will take place prior to the East Carolina football game on Sept. 22. This class brings the number of total inductees to 109.

Former walk-on turned All-America offensive lineman Rich Braham, made 37 starts at left tackle for West Virginia from 1990-93. Braham started every game as a senior captain in 1993 and anchored a line that paved the way for Robert Walker to rush for a then-school record 1,250 yards. The all-Big East selection was named the team's most valuable player and recognized on the Kodak, UPI and the AP All-America teams after helping lead the Mountaineers to their second untied, undefeated regular season (11-0) in school history. Braham was also the recipient of WVU's Ira E. Rodgers Award for outstanding leadership, academic and football achievement.

The Morgantown, W.Va., native started each game of the 1992 season and garnered the Whitey Gwynne award as the Mountaineers' unsung hero on offense. Braham's sophomore season was his first as a full-time starter after starting the last three games of the 1990 season as a freshman.

Braham, who received a bachelor's degree in finance at WVU, was drafted in the third round of the 1994 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals before later being traded to the Cincinnati Bengals that season. He appeared in 146 games and made 142 starts during his 13-year career in Cincinnati. He played the early part of his career at left guard and then switched to center full-time in 1999, where he made his last 98 starts. Cincinnati coaches raved at how the former University High standout made such a smooth transition to center as a new era began of giant defensive tackles manning the middle of NFL defenses.

Braham is only the seventh man to play at least 13 seasons in a Cincinnati uniform. During his tenure in Cincinnati, he blocked for Pro Bowl running backs Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson and protected quarterbacks Boomer Esiason, Jeff Blake and Carson Palmer. Braham was known as one of the toughest guys in the organization, surviving four arthroscopic knee surgeries, two sprained ankles, a herniated neck disc and a broken toe in his career before – finally – a tibia plateau fracture forced his retirement in December of 2006.

Braham and his wife Connie have a son, Noah.

Jerry Holmes, was a standout defensive back for two seasons on WVU's 1978 and 1979 football teams after coming to Morgantown from Chowan Junior College in North Carolina. Holmes earned all-East honors and totaled 175 career tackles in his two-year Mountaineer career and was a captain his senior season.

Despite a limited time in the Mountaineer uniform, Holmes still was named a member of WVU's all-1970s team and earned the award for the team's most valuable player in 1979. The Newport News, Va., native received his degree in business administration at WVU in 1980 before enjoying an 11-year career in the NFL and the USFL. Holmes signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets in 1980 and played there until 1983, then spent one year each with the Pittsburgh Maulers in 1984 and with the New Jersey Generals in 1985 before coming back to the NFL. Holmes returned to play for the Jets in 1986-87 and also saw time with the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers before ending his pro career in 1991. His NFL career totals included 25 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

Holmes' gridiron career didn't stop when his playing days were over. He quickly made the transition to coaching joining the Hampton staff as the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator from 1991 to 1994. Holmes then returned to his alma mater to coach the defensive backs under Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen from 1995-98. He helped guide the famed defensive unit of the 1996 team to top national ranking in total defense and fifth in pass efficiency. He also coached All-America defensive back Aaron Beasley, who went on to have solid pro career. Holmes then moved to the NFL where he coached defensive backs for the Cleveland Browns (1999-00), the Washington Redskins (2001) and the San Diego Chargers (2002-03). Holmes has since returned to Hampton where he has been the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach since 2004.

He and his wife Patricia have one daughter, Natasha.

Tom Lowry, was one of the most productive centers in WVU's basketball history. At 6-8, 220 pounds, the Madison, Ohio, native logged 1,104 points and 914 rebounds during his outstanding three-year varsity career. He is also among a select few Mountaineers who averaged double digits in scoring and rebounding. His norms were 12.4 points and 10.3 caroms over 89 games from 1961-64. The teams he was on posted impressive records of 24-6, 23-8 and 18-10.

In compiling an overall 65-24 mark under the late coach George King, the Mountaineers won two Southern Conference championships, a runner-up finish and berths in two NCAA tournaments with Lowry in the lineup. He was named to the all-Southern Conference first team and also the league's all-tournament second team as a senior in 1964. He had made the all-tournament second team in each of the previous two years. As a junior, he also made the Kentucky Invitational all-tourney team, despite a tough 79-75 loss to host UK in the finals.

His career highs were 10 field goals and 26 points in a 79-72 victory over St. John's on Dec. 6, 1963, and 22 rebounds in an 80-76 win at Pitt on Feb. 7, 1962. He played the full 40 minutes as WVU defeated Villanova 88-82 on Jan. 6, 1962 at the old Field House (aka Stansbury Hall). Lowry considers a 75-73 upset of No. 3-ranked Davidson on Jan. 29, 1964 in Charleston as the most cherished conquest of his WVU career. He tallied 20 points and 19 rebounds in that thriller and outplayed All-America Fred Hetzel, who was called for goaltending on a late desperation shot. The Wildcats disputed the costly ruling, but to no avail.

Lowry received a bachelor's degree in business and a master's degree in marketing. Then he settled in the Detroit area, where he and wife Pat still reside. They have two sons, Kirk and Adam, and a daughter, Beth Schudlich. After short stints with Chrysler Motor Co. and General Motors, Lowry started his own business in the automobile industry. His firm produced cowhide leather for seats in new vehicles for more than 25 years.

Harry "Moo" Moore, saw varsity action in three of the most successful season in WVU basketball history from 1950-52. Under head coach Red Brown, Moore and his teammates posted a combined 60-20 record that included a Southern Conference regular season and tournament championship.

Moore holds the second highest career free throw percentage with an 84 percent mark and, during the 1950 season, Moore helped the Mountaineers to an 18-9 record and a Southern Conference tournament championship. As a junior in 1951, Moore started 20 of 27 games, averaging seven points per game en route to winning the Southern Conference regular season title with a 23-4 record. As a senior, the 6-2 center averaged 12.8 ppg and recorded 158 rebounds.

Moore was drafted in the sixth round of the 1952 NBA draft by the Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers), however he did not play for the Nats as he served in the Army infantry as a Lieutenant from 1953-55. Most of Moore's time in the armed services was spent overseas in Germany. In 1954, Moore was selected to play in the armed forces Pan-Am games in Mexico and International Games in Germany.

From 1956-84, Moore worked in the oil industry as a realtor. Harry and his wife Alice reside in Moundsville, W.Va. and have three children: Harry, Jennie and Mary.

Robert Moss, was an outstanding running back during WVU's golden era of football in the glorious 1950s. A native of Huntington, he had a hand in compiling 7-2, 8-2, 8-1 and 8-2 records, including an appearance in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1954. He had career totals of 1,403 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns on 180 carries.

Moss hit a peak in his senior year of 1955, gaining 807 yards on only 98 attempts. His 8.2 yards per carry average set a Mountaineer record. The 6-1, 200-pound speedster was long-gaited, strong-legged and explosive as a runner, but had to share totes with several other talented backs. He also returned kicks and was named a member of WVU's all-time team for the period 1950-59. Moss earned All-Southern Conference recognition as a senior. Cam Henderson, head football coach at Marshall in the 1940s and 50s, called the Huntington East two-sport all-starter "the best runner I've seen in 38 years of coaching."

After receiving his bachelor's degree in business administration, he was a fourth-round selection of the Cleveland Browns in the NFL draft. But following a pro tryout, he decided to give up football in favor of a military career. Moss joined the Navy's flight-training program in 1957 and spent the next 26 years serving his country as a Naval officer. He retired as a commander in 1983 and settled down in Pensacola, Fla., where he still resides.

He traveled extensively in the service and recorded stints in Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand. He also served in the Vietnam War. Moss and wife Jackie have three daughters, a son and six grandchildren.

Fred S. "Jack" Simons, was a four-year starter as a halfback and fullback on WVU's football teams from 1920-23. He also played linebacker on defense.

Simons came to Morgantown from New Cumberland, where he was a rare four-year, four-sport standout in high school. He scored 38 touchdowns and 60 extra points as a senior. His 288 points stood as the state's single-season football scoring record for 49 years.

Simons starred on the 1922 Mountaineer team that posted a 10-0-1 record and remains the only undefeated-but-once-tied team in school history. He caught a 16-yard pass from Nick Nardacci for the game-winning score in a 21-13 victory over Gonzaga in the 1922 East-West Bowl. In all, Simons had a hand in a combined record of 27-9-4. He was elected the only captain of the 1923 team that went 7-1-1, including a 13-7 victory over Pitt. He was the leading ground-gainer against the Panthers with 77 yards, 19 more than Pitt's entire team total.

Simons' greatest game as a ballcarrier came that same season in a 27-7 upset of powerful Rutgers. He gained 144 yards on 20 rushes. He is one of just six backs on WVU's all-time team for the period 1919-29, when a player saw action on offense and defense.

After graduating in spring 1924, he spent a year as player-coach with the Steubenville (Ohio) Pros. The team of former college players competed on Saturdays against semi-pro clubs from other communities in the Tri-State area. However, that Ohio league switched to a full-time format in 1925, forcing Simons to retire as a player. He had married Ethel Wilson of Morgantown when he was just a sophomore at WVU; they had two children by then and Simons had his own insurance business to run.

Some 10 years later, though, he was back in sports at the high school level as an unpaid volunteer. He became athletic director and started a football program at St. Francis High in 1933. Without compensation, he also served as head coach through 1938. His teams earned victories over much larger schools, mostly in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. Those in 1935 and 1938 went undefeated with 9-0 records.

Simons, who died in 1997 at the age of 96, was inducted to the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.

Georgeann Wells, a 6-7 center from Columbus, Ohio, was a four-year letterwinner on WVU's women's basketball teams from 1983-86. Most notably, Wells became the first women's college basketball player to dunk in a game when she did so against Charleston on Dec. 21, 1984, at Elkins' Randolph County Armory during the Mountaineer Christmas Classic.

The dunk instantly made her a national celebrity. Network television, Sports Illustrated, an NCAA luncheon in New York, a display in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women's College Basketball Hall of Fame and induction into Houston's Phi Slamma Jama dunking fraternity were just a few of the highlights of one of the school's most memorable moments. Unmatched until 1994, the feat is still one of the sport's most talked-about accomplishments.

Wells came to WVU as a heavily recruited prep star from Northland High. As a Mountaineer she averaged a double-double for her career (14.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg), which ranks her as one of just three players in school history to do so. She scored 1,484 career points, grabbed 1,075 rebounds and tallied 436 blocks, which still stands by far as the school record (the next closest is 172). She played in 106 games with 68 career starts, including all 28 her senior season. She was also team captain as a senior. WVU was 66-51 during her career, which included four Atlantic 10 tournament appearances and the postseason WNIT in 1985.

She still holds numerous WVU single game, single season and career blocked shot records. She set the WVU single game record with 17 blocked shots against Marshall in 1983, and she owns the top seven Mountaineer single-game blocked shot records. She owns the top four single-season blocked shots record, including the school record 140 in 1986.

While at WVU she was an AWSF All-America Honorable mention in 1986, a 1983 AWSF freshman All-America, a two-time all-Atlantic 10 first team member in 1985 and 1986, AWSF third-team All-America in 1985, 1985 Kodak All-East and second-team all-Atlantic 10 in 1984.

After finishing her career with the Mountaineers, Wells briefly toured with the Harlem Globetrotters and was a part of Converse's "Rocking the Neighborhood" campaign. She then played and coached professionally in Japan from 1986-92, and in Spain, Italy and France from 1992-2003. From 2000-05, Wells has privately owned a child-care facility. Currently, she is coaching six AAU youth teams, three female and three male, in the summers.

Wells has been married to Myron Blackwell for 17 years and they have three children -- Curtis (17), Maddison (12) and Kasey (5). She and her family currently reside in Hilliard, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. Wells graduated from Huntington University in 2003 with a degree in elementary and physical education. She is currently pursuing a master's degree.


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