Continuing on with our 100 day countdown to WVU’s season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide, we have reached day 29, the number once worn by WVU fullback, Rico Tyler.
Originally a native of nearby Wilkinsburg, PA, Tyler was a four-year member of the WVU football program, from 1987-1990. During his career, Tyler appeared in 36 games (23 starts) for the Mountaineers while recording 949 rushing yards, 238 receiving yards, six rushing touchdowns, and two touchdown receptions. He appeared in two bowl games for West Virginia which included the 1989 Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame, and the 1989 Gator Bowl against Clemson.
As a freshman, Tyler appeared in just five games for the old Gold and Blue as a substitute running back. During the 1987 season, Tyler rushed for 57 yards, while making a four yard pass reception in the process. The Mountaineers finished the campaign 6-6 overall after losing to Oklahoma State 35-33 in the 1987 Sun Bowl.
The next season, the Mountaineers had their best season in the program’s 100+ year history. They recorded the school’s first perfect regular season with a mark of 11-0, and earned a bid to play for the national championship against the #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl. Throughout the course of the season, Tyler ran for 112 yards, and added an eight yard pass receptions in eight appearances as a sophomore. The Mountaineers went on to lose to the Fighting Irish 34-21 to finish the year 11-1 overall.
In the 1989 season, the 5’11”, 237 pound fullback finally took over the reins at fullback for the graduated Craig Tyler. In his first season in the starting role, Tyler broke out as an offensive threat out of the backfield to record 314 rushing yards, 107 receiving yards, and four all-purpose touchdowns (three rushing; one receiving). That season, the Mountaineers went 8-3-1 overall, and were defeated by the Clemson Tigers 27-7 in the 1989 Gator Bowl; it was the team’s third consecutive bowl appearance, and the seventh in a ten year span.
Tyler finished out his collegiate career with his best season to date. During the course of the 1990 campaign, Tyler recorded 455 rushing yards, 119 receiving yards, and four all-purpose touchdowns (three rushing; one receiving). That season, Tyler recorded a career-high 102 rushing yards in a 28-20 home victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats. The outing against Cincy was the only time during his WVU career Tyler reached the century mark in rushing yards in a game. The Mountaineers did not fare as well as they had the previous three seasons as the finished the 1990 campaign 4-7. This was mostly due to the graduations of Major Harris, A.B. Brown, Bo Orlando, and countless others who were major contributors on the 1988 and 1989 squads.
Rico Tyler went on to graduate from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in 1990. He went on to receive his master’s in special education from the school not long after. Currently, Tyler resides in the Chicago metropolitan area as he works for DePaul University in their Division of Student Affairs department. He currently serves as Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and inclusion, a role he has served in since 2008.
All countdown profiles of numbers 100-30 are still available here at WVUPros.com