Joe Pendry has been involved in football for a half century, and that doesn't include his years as a player. He returned to his native West Virginia on Sunday to help relate what he has learned a group of young players.
Pendry, a native of Welch who went on to coach both in college and the National Football League, was the guest speaker at a luncheon for Shady Spring's football seniors.
"I'm just going to share with them some of the positive influences that some people have had on me. High school coaches especially, down through the years," Pendry said. "Actually I've learned as much from coaching players. I've learned as much from players the last — I hate to say it — 50 years of doing it because of how they react to things. Players react, and that teaches you how to be a presenter of things to them, how to get the knowledge imparted to guys in different ways."
Pendry has plenty of knowledge to impart. The Oceana graduate began his coaching career in 1971 as the wide receivers coach and later offensive line coach at West Virginia.
After four seasons in Morgantown, he moved on to Kansas State before coming back to WVU as offensive coordinator for two seasons. He later went on to Pitt and Michigan States before moving on to the Philadelphia Stars and Pittsburgh Maulers of the United States Football League.
Pendry took his first NFL job with the Cleveland Browns for three seasons before stops in Kansas City, Chicago, Carolina, Buffalo, Washington and Houston.
In 2007, Pendry returned to the college game and joined friend and fellow West Virginia native Nick Saban at Alabama. He was there four seasons, including the 2009 national championship season, before announcing his retirement in 2011.
"The recruiting part of it me wore me down, so I kind of went into an advisory athletics system to kind of coach coaches, really," Pendry said. "I'm doing some other advisory things, I ran an all-star game and have done several different things since then. I'm still involved in football."
As a fan of the game and because of his connections to the Crimson Tide, he had a special interest in last week's national championship game between LSU and Clemson. LSU, which defeated Alabama in the regular season en route to the SEC Championship, beat Clemson 42-25 behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow.
"The key thing that people don't realize, he's a fifth-year player. Guys who get all that practice time for those extra two years ... with all those repetitions and meetings and all that, he's just further ahead," Pendry said. "He's got a good NFL future. He's going to be an outstanding quarterback."
Pendry and his wife Sandra still live in Tuscaloosa, but they get back to West Virginia frequently.
"We've been there so long and got to know people. We're here quite a bit, but we're there, especially during all the football season and most of spring practice," he said. "I've got a place up Flat Top Lake. We built it two summers ago. As a matter of fact we came in this weekend, and my son and his family are all skiing at Winterplace today. We get back quite a bit. I've always had a place, about the last 25, 30 years, somewhere in West Virginia."
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