The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

January 13, 2013

Pocahontas native Bosley was most honored WVU lineman

MORGANTOWN — Rene Henry writes from Seattle to ask why the late Bruce Bosley’s football jersey number hasn’t been retired yet.

His reference is to probably the greatest lineman in West Virginia University’s football history. He excelled as a tackle and guard, playing both ways, in 1952-53-54-55.

Bosley, who grew up in tiny Green Bank, was the most honored who ever wore the Gold and Blue. He made a school-record 12 All-America first-teams in 1955.

Sam Huff, who was a teammate, was the first football player to have his jersey number retired. And he made only four All-America teams, though he certainly was an all-time great lineman.

So was the late fullback Ira Errett “Rat” Rodgers, who was sole captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams as a senior in 1919. He stayed at WVU as a long-time head coach with football, baseball and golf.

Rodgers’ number in football also has been retired.

The only other jersey numbers in retirement were Jerry West’s and Hot Rod Hundley’s in basketball. They remain the top two in that sport.

There is a criteria to grade whoever has a voice or vote in retiring jersey numbers. And the thought herein is that Bruce Bosley will qualify eventually.

He made a total of 12 All-America first teams in 1955 as a senior. Those were:

Collier, International News Service, United Press, The Sporting News, New York News, Williamson Rating System, Hearst Newspapers, Paramount News, All-America Board, Boston Record American, Gridiron Weekly and Players’ (Norman Sper).

Henry watched the muscular Bosley perform during a couple of years in the 1950s as interim WVU sports information director. He was filling in for Eddie Barrett, who was serving in the military at the time.

So he’s certainly familiar with Bosley’s ability at WVU and in the NFL, where he was mostly an All-Pro center. He spent most of his career with the San Francisco 49ers.

Bosley is in the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

As a tackle, Bosley became the school’s second consensus All-American — the first since Rodgers in 1919. He was a leader as WVU posted a 31-7 record during his four years in the Mountaineers’ lineup.

He also earned Academic All-America honors. He played in the College All-Star game, the Senior Bowl and the North-South Game, the latter fresh out of high school.

The Associated Press named Bosley the National Player of the Week following WVU’s 19-14 upset of Penn State in 1954, his junior year.

He was a second-round draft pick of San Francisco in 1956 and became an immediate starter at defensive end. Bosley also played tackle and guard before switching to center and excelled as a blocker.

Bosley served as president of the NFL Alumni Association.

“Bruce was elected to the California legislature,” Henry noted. “And he died of a heart attack at a black-tie charity event in his honor.”

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