One of the best two-way players in West Virginia football history in Sam Huff sadly died on Saturday at the age of 87 years old.
The news shook Mountaineer nation far and wide as the 1991 West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame inductee made a large impact on the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia.
Huff was an in-state product hailing from Edna Gas, West Virginia, and attended Farmington High School before earning a scholarship to come play in Morgantown as a Division I college football player. The versatile player started three seasons at guard and tackle and lined up alongside names like Bruce Bosley and Gene Lamonte on West Virginia’s offensive line in the 1950s.
The talented football player lined up at West Virginia from 1952 until 1955 while being named an All-American in 1955. In Huff’s tenure with the Mountaineers, he helped his team to a 31-7 record as well as an appearance in the 1954 Sugar Bowl.
“Sam’s teams in the mid-1950’s were among the best in college football, and his years playing professional football for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins brought great fame to West Virginia University. Throughout his accomplished life, Sam never forgot his alma mater,” WVU AD Shane Lyons said.
The first year that Huff started on the offensive line at West Virginia was his sophomore year of college when he blocked at guard before moving outside to tackle and ended his career as a four-year letterman. Due to his play, Huff was selected to play in the north-south game, the Senior Bowl and the College Football All-Star Game for his stellar collegiate ball play.
Huff’s life was changed for the better in the 1956 NFL Draft when he was selected by the New York Giants where he was coached by legendary head football coach Tom Landry. The West Virginia native’s NFL career spanned 14 years and he concluded his tenure in the league with the conference rival Washington Redskins.
“He was one of the greatest Giants of all time,” New York Giants president and CEO John Mara said following Huff’s passing. “He was the heart and soul of our defense in his era. He almost single-handedly influenced the first chants of ‘Defense, Defense’ in Yankee Stadium.”
Throughout the legend’s professional football career, the well-rounded Huff earned five Pro Bowl appearances and a pair of first team All-Pro selections. Some of his most impressive numbers in the league included snatching 30 interceptions and scoring two touchdowns in 168 games played in the NFL.
When his professional football career was all said and done, Huff was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982. While the standout’s name is a part of both the New York Giants and Washington Football Team’s Rings of Honor, the hall of famer’s number 75 was also retired by West Virginia University in November of 2005.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Sam Huff. He was an outstanding player on the gridiron and an even greater man off the field. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sam’s family during this difficult time. The Hall of Fame will forever guard his legacy,” Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said.
Huff’s name will forever live on in the memories of Mountaineers, Giants and Redskins fans alike as the footballer was one of the most versatile players of all time and played in a generation very different from today’s game.
(Top Photo: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images)