Changed and Charged

The biggest question during the West Virginia's football offseason wasn't how the Mountaineers would replace the graduating seniors or how the new recruiting class would fit into the game plan. Instead, WVUs biggest question was if their two offensive stars – slot receiver Jock Sanders and running back Noel Devine -- would return for their final season.

After much consideration, the dynamic duo both decided to return to Morgantown to finish out their careers.

"I was happy with the decision I made," said Devine prior to a summer workout session. "I took time to think about it with my family but I'm happy with the decision I made."

Devine realizes that he left many people shocked with his decision to return for his final year of collegiate football instead of leaving early for the NFL.

"I think I shocked a lot of people," Devine said with a smile. "I like to keep them on their toes and keep them guessing. God already has a path laid out for me. I'm just living it and trying to enjoy it. It's a great feeling."

As he prepares for his fourth and final season with West Virginia, Devine admits that he is just as surprised that he stayed around for his final year of eligibility – at least when looking at the decision from the perspective he had as a freshman entering the school. He admits that was not his plan when he arrived at WVU four years ago.

"I just thought I would be here for three years," said Devine. "Three and out. I started thinking about the biggest picture and it's not just about football. There's life after football and everything that comes with it. The college experience has been great. It's given me the opportunity to grow."

That growth is evident in many ways. When Devine entered WVU, he was reserved and cautious – a product of a tough childhood and early exposure in the media spotlight. Learning to trust people, to not view everything within that cocoon of caution, certainly shaped his personaltiy and outlook. During his time at West Virginia, his transformation has been easy to see, and it has carried over into just aobut every aspect of his life. Just as his original career plan changed since his arrival in West Virginia in 2007, he has also changed significantly as a person.

"[I have changed] spiritually, mentally," Devine admitted. "I'm just an all around better person. That's part of growing up."

Although he has always been looked at as a leader on the Mountaineer offense, Devine has stepped into the role more than ever now that he is a senior. Head coach Bill Stewart's search for stronger leadership has been a recurring theme since the start of spring practice, and Devine believes he has to fill that role in order to meet the big expectations for the upcoming season.

"It's an honor to be a senior," said Devine. "It's what a lot of guys wait for and look forward to. It's a privilege for me and I'm happy that I'm in this position. My goals are set high. I want to win the Big East first and then go from there."

While Devine has big hopes for his final go-round on the football field, a league title and a BCS bid was not the only thing that brought Devine back for a fourth year. The Sociology and Anthropology major will be graduating in May 2011, which may be his biggest accomplishment of all thus far.

"It will mean a lot," said Devine. "It's something that a lot of people can't say that they did. Coming from my family, not too many of my family [members] have done it. I have a chip on my shoulder. I've set my goals high."

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