The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

March 22, 2012

Wyant was quarterback star of 1950s

MORGANTOWN — Frederick Mount Wyant was the split-T quarterback in West Virginia University football of the mid-1950s Golden Era.

The Weston native’s 30-4 record as a starter is the school’s best ever, percentage-wise. That was when a college team played only 9 or 10 games a year. Now the number is way up to 12 or 13, counting championship conference or bowl contests.

Wyant, now 77, was a four-year letterman from 1952-1955. He earned academic All-American honors three years. He also made the All-Southern Conference team four years and the All-East team two years.

A left-hander, he rolled up 3,426 yards in total offense and 33 touchdowns on 708 plays. Those numbers and West Virginia’s annual record attracted a lot of attention during that period.

Arch Ward of the Chicago Tribune wrote, after his junior season, “Many football men rate Freddy Wyant of West Virginia the best college split-T quarterback in the country.”

Shelly Rolfe of the Richmond Times-Dispatch observed, “Freddy Wyant has so much driving power (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) on the option play, he runs like most college fullbacks.”

Chauncey Durden of the Richmond Times-Dispatch called Wyant “Cool and poised and slick as a damn bandit.”

Art “Poppy” Lewis, WVU head coach from 1950-60, said “He’s the best I’ve ever seen on the option play.”

Wyant is the only Mountaineer in history to lead his team to three consecutive victories over Penn State (1953-54-55). The ’53 team lost to Georgia Tech in the Sugar Bowl Jan. 1, 1954.

For his 36-game career, he completed 174 of 401 passes for 2,603 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also ran 307 times for a net 703 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Besides quarterback, Wyant was a safety on defense. He is credited in partial defense statistics with making 39 tackles and five interceptions.

Wyant certainly had fun to go with his smashing success. For example, in a 26-6 upset of South Carolina in the 1954 season’s opener, Victor “Jack” Rabbitts returned a punt 99 yards. Wyant then whispered, “great job, Jack, I’ll go ahead and take it in from here.”

Coach Lewis scouted Wyant in a game Weston High lost to Sutton one night and returned to Jackson’s Mill, where WVU was in training camp, and told his staff, “I’ve just seen the kid who’s going to make me a great coach some time.”

Wyant played one year in the NFL as a third-round draft choice with the Washington Redskins. Later he was a referee in the NFL for 27 years.

He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

Wyant, a three-sport star at Weston High, made the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) All-America team as a junior. He capped his WVU career as a participant in the Hula Bowl.

Fred and wife Dolores have three grown children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild. The Wyants reside in Star City.

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