Continuing on with our 100 day countdown to WVU’s season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide, we have reached day 31, the number once worn by WVU fullback, Dick Leftridge.
Originally from Hinton, WV, Leftridge was a four-year member of the WVU football program, from 1962 to 1965. During his career, Leftridge recorded 1,701 rushing yards, 189 receiving yards, 18 rushing touchdowns, and three touchdown receptions. He was a first team, All-SoCon selection in 1965, and joined fellow freshman, Roger Alford, as the first African Americans to play football for West Virginia University. His 18 career touchdowns rank 12th most all-time in the school record books.
After redshirting in 1962, Leftridge began his playing career for the Mountaineers as a sophomore in 1963. He recorded 393 rushing yards, 89 receiving yards, and seven all-purpose touchdowns. The team went 4-6 overall, and finished second in the Southern Conference after going 3-1 in league play.
As a junior, the 6’2”, 228 pound running back helped the Mountaineers get back to being annual contenders for the Southern Conference championship as he recorded 534 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards, and five rushing touchdowns. The Mountaineers finished the year 7-4 overall, and went undefeated in conference play to earn the league title, and a bid to play in the 1964 Liberty Bowl against Utah. The bowl game was significant as it was the very first major college football bowl game played indoors as it was contested inside the tight confines of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.
To conclude his WVU playing career, Leftridge had a career-year statistically with 774 rushing yards, 77 receiving yards, eight rushing touchdowns, and a touchdown reception during the 1965 campaign. The team won their second straight conference title after compiling a perfect record of 4-0 in league play, but missed out on a bowl berth after finishing 6-4 overall.
Following his graduation from West Virginia University, Dick Leftridge was selected with the third overall pick in the 1966 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He only lasted four games in the league before being cut by the organization. He rushed for 17 yards on eight carries, and had two career touchdowns in the process.
Although his pro career ended as quick as it started, the fact that Leftridge was a part of coach Gene Corum’s efforts to integrate African Americans into the WVU football program, and had a great career while wearing the old Gold and Blue will both be what he’s most remembered for.
All countdown profiles of numbers 100-32 are still available here at WVUPros.com