The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

May 14, 2014

Kevin Koken was leader of great 1988 O-line at WVU

MORGANTOWN — Kevin Koken, who just turned 48, was an outstanding center on West Virginia University’s football teams from 1985-88.

Coach Don Nehlen called him the leader of the undefeated 1988 offensive line. That team arguably was the best in WVU football history.

Finishing the regular season 11-0, the Mountaineers lost to Notre Dame by 34-21 in the Sunkist Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship on Jan. 2, 1989 at Tempe, Ariz.

Like virtually all of his magnificent teammates, Kevin Koken will tell you WVU undoubtedly would have won the 1988 crown if All-America quarterback Major Harris hadn’t injured his shoulder on the team’s third offensive play of the game.

Koken, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, now resides in Cranberry Township, Pa. He is still associated with Federal Express Ground.

He has been a cherished employee of this widely known firm since he graduated from WVU in 1989.

Koken was honored as a captain of the 1988 team. It finished No. 5 in both major polls and captured the prestigious Lambert Trophy, symbolic of Eastern collegiate football supremacy.

After eventually becoming the top center in 1985, the 6-foot-3, 275-pounder remained the starter his last three seasons: “We had some great guys, and we all played together well,” Koken recalled.

In his spare time, he enjoys coaching a junior high school basketball team. It includes his 13-year-old son.

Koken had a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles but unfortunately did not play pro football. But that enabled him to start his career with FedEx earlier.

He joined the firm at Youngstown in 1989.

Kevin and wife Jennifer have been married for 17 years. She is a graduate of Bowling Green University.

Asked how it felt playing football for Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen, Koen replied:

“It was wonderful! He was passionate about the sport. But he also was passionate about his players. He’s absolutely a class act, too.

“Coach Nehlen didn’t just talk about football. He stressed leadership. He had high expectations, and he certainly knew the game.”

The Kokens have three young children. Son Justin is 13 and there are twin daughters, Berndan and Gretchen 12.

Here’s what his coach said of him in “Don Nehlen’s Tales from the West Virginia sidelines”:

“Kevin Koken was the leader of the 1988 offensive line. That line stuck together and took its lumps as sophomores, came together as juniors, and had a great year as seniors.

“Kevin was the catalyst for it all – just a wonderful young guy from Youngstown, Ohio. He had a way of bringing people together…”

That’s quite a tribute to a man who’s in a managerial position with FedEx.

Koken was named by The Associated Press to its All-East first team. He also received honorable mention in the AP’s All-America balloting.

As a senior, Koken also was selected winner of the squad’s John Russell Memorial award.

Text Only
College Sports
  • Trickett takes uncertainty away from WVU quarterback position

    Since the day Geno Smith was selected with the 39th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, West Virginia’s football team has found itself in a rare position — searching for a starting quarterback.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fred Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.

    July 27, 2014

  • Herd featured prominently in website’s preseason honors

    Marshall received several nods in the preseason All-Conference USA awards released Saturday.

    July 27, 2014

  • Miners stop Lorain County 5-1

    The West Virginia Miners received a strong outing from starting pitcher Patrick LaGanke, and scored one run in each of the final five innings to defeat the Lorain County Ironmen 5-1 Thursday.

    July 25, 2014

  • Some topics of interest to area fans

    Tom Hart, a widely known retired Morgantown High School administrator and coach, continues to excel as one of the nation’s top bowlers

    July 25, 2014

  • 072514 WVU Replacing Sims a challenge for WVU

    Every year, almost every college football preview publication available lists one key statistic that most use to evaluate the prospects for any given football team — returning starters.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • WVU’s Worley clear starter at cornerback

    There were few bright spots in West Virginia University’s 4-8 football campaign last year, and even fewer on the defensive side of the football, where the Mountaineers gave up more than 455 yards and 33 points per game.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen to appear on ESPN special

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen will appear Wednesday on ESPN’s annual mid-summer college football coaches’ “car wash” — in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen: WVU getting comfortable in new league

    Dana Holgorsen remembers the glory days of West Virginia University football — the ones that included conference championships and BCS bowl wins. In fact, he was part of one of those, leading the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and an Orange Bowl victory in his first season as head coach in 2011.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072314 miners Miners take series with Paints

    The way the West Virginia Miners see it, they don’t have the luxury of planning for tomorrow.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Saints Training Camp