Friday, September 14, 2007

Better than Randy Moss.....

Before Randy Moss, there was Joe Pendry

By by Frank Giardina, Charleston Daily Mail

In the 1960s and 1970s, the tiny coal camp area of Wyoming County produced two of the state's best ever multi-sports athletes.

In the late '70s Curt Warner from now consolidated Pineville High School was a football and basketball all-stater and a southern West Virginia legend. He went on to become an All-American running back at Penn State where he helped legendary Coach Joe Paterno win his first national championship in 1982.

While in Happy Valley, many fans may not realize that he also played baseball for the Nittany Lions.

Warner was a first-round NFL Draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 1983. He rushed for just under 7,000 yards in eight seasons and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

But before Warner -- in the mid-1960s -- Joe Pendry proved to be one of the top multi-sports stars in state history while playing for now defunct Oceana High School. He was a three-sport star in football, basketball and track and was an all-stater in football and basketball.

Pendry won the Hunt Award in 1964 as the best prep lineman in the state. Then, he helped lead the Indians to the Class AA state championship in basketball in 1965. One of his teammates was Elwood Pennington, the father of former Marshall star and now New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington.

A former long-time state sportswriter, Mike Brown, was a sports editor of newspapers in both Beckley and Huntington. He was in Beckley during Pendry's high school career and had this to say about the Matheny native: "I did not see Randy Moss, but I can tell you unequivocally that Joe Pendry is without question the best multi-sports athlete that I ever saw in high school in West Virginia.

"I have seen better football and better basketball players, but I saw no one better as a multi-sport athlete. He had trememdous coaches in John Beckleheimer in football and Paul Greer in basketball and he represented his school and commmunity with class."

Many state natives have built national reputations nationally in coaching. Another Wyoming County native, Mike D,Antoni of Mullens is as respected as any coach in the NBA. Everyone knows of the Marion County roots of West Virginia University head football coach Rich Rodriguez.

But Pendry might be the most under-rated coaching treasure among the state natives. Because he is a long-time assistant, his profile is not as high as others. But among his peers, he is incredibly respected.

He coached at WVU from 1969-77 and was the offensive coordinator in 1976-77. Pendry also has coached at Kansas State, Pitt and Michigan State. Then, he began his NFL coaching career in 1985 and spent 19 seasons with six different teams. He coached 11 playoff teams during his NFL career.

Now, Pendry is back in college coaching, serving as Nick Saban's assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Alabama.

See Joe's info here.

If the stories my mom told me are true, Joe taught me swimming lessons at the Oceana, West Virginia, pool in the mid 1960s.

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