The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

October 16, 2013

Woodeshick may have set NFL record for RBs

MORGANTOWN — Tom Woodeshick, one of West Virginia University’s finest halfbacks in the early 1960s, went on to become an outstanding player in the National Football League.

So much so, the talented 6-foot-4, 205-pound Wilkes-Barre, Pa., native reportedly played in the NFL longer than any other running back — 10 seasons.

Woodeshick was a fourth-round pick by Buffalo in the American Football League draft in 1963 and eighth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL. But he signed with the Eagles and played nine years for them from 1963-71, and finally one year with St. Louis in 1972.

Then he had to retire as a player with a severe ankle injury.

“I most certainly enjoyed playing for Coach Gene Corum (at WVU) in 1960-61-62,” Woodeshick said from the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, where he resides. “We had a lot of respect for him, and we liked him an awful lot.

“He came up with a couple of the best emotional speeches I’ve ever heard before a game. He was a great guy and a really good coach.”

A three-year varsity letter-winner, who also played on a 1959 freshman team, Woodeshick graduated from WVU in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree. He also took graduate studies at Penn and Temple universities.

As a Mountaineer, Woodeshick rushed for 876 yards on 192 carries and caught passes for 195 yards. He scored four career touchdowns here and also returned kickoffs for 183 yards.

Woodeshick, who turns 72 in December, was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame last month. He also is a member of the WVU all-time team for 1960-69.

As a professional, Woodeshick played in 115 games (11.5 average per year). He rushed for 3,521 yards on 836 carries, averaging 4.3 yards per rush. He also snatched 126 passes for 1,175 yards (an average of 9.3 yards per reception).

Making his vast achievements all the more impressive, Woodeshick scored a total of 27 touchdowns in the NFL.

His best season came in 1968. He ran for a career-high 947 yards and was named to the Pro Bowl. He also made several first- and second- team All-Pro clubs in 1968-69.

“I’ve had a good career in football,” Woodeshick readily acknowledges. “But I wouldn’t say it was great. Let me say that I probably didn’t have the opportunity to run (with the ball) as much as I would have liked.

“That includes my years in high school, college, and professional ranks.”

He had been an outstanding runner at Hanover (Pa.) High. Woodeshick was selected as a senior there to perform in the prestigious all-star East-West area contest.

Two most memorable WVU victories remain in Woodeshick’s mind. One was that he led the 27-25 win against George Washington in 1962 with a career-best 89 yards on just 10 carries. The other also came as a senior when he had a huge set of feet in the school’s first ever team to win at Syracuse’s Archibald Stadium.

That 17-6 triumph capped a sparkling 8-2 record in 1962. It had to be disappointing to that team not to receive one of the handful of bowls then in existence.

Woodeshick, who was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, was a restaurant owner, wrote columns for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and was a stock broker since retiring as a player 40 years.

He also squeezed in time for columnist stints with the Philadelphia Bell in the World Football League, and was a football coach and intramural athletic director at Moravian College.

From 1985 to the present, he has been in the casino marketing business with associate Juanita Krieger. He has three sons. 

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