The young man who currently dons the number retired by the West Virginia football program this past weekend, Akheem Mesidor has been enjoying a season similar to what Darryl Talley experienced in his time with the old gold and blue.
That was some 40 odd years ago in the same number 90 jersey that Talley wore back then while Mesidor is showing significant signs of a similar type playmaker both tackling, intercepting or reading offensive schemes in general.
The Ottawa, Ontario, native is playing his sophomore season and has been a force on a solid Mountaineer defensive line that also features senior Dante Stills and redshirt junior Taijh Alston. As West Virginia’s coaches and players alike say often about Mesidor this season is that he may not always show up in the stat sheet, but he is playing at a very high level on the defensive side of the ball.
Mesidor played his best game of this young season in his team’s opener at Maryland on September 4 in which the lineman made nine total tackles but was one of the only players actually playing at a high level on the Mountaineers defense that week in the loss.
The former Mountaineer in Talley was a threat at almost every position on the defensive side of the ball throughout his time in Morgantown playing at almost every spot but mainly serving in his linebacker role. In fact, in a game against Pitt in 1982 Talley saw snaps at nine of the 11 total defensive positions while picking off Dan Marino in the process of a tough loss to a top tier Panthers team.
“I didn’t know I would reach the level that I reached but as far as somebody being confident in themselves and their skillset, yes I was very confident in my skill set and myself,” Talley said. “I knew I could do a lot of different things, I did more things on the field than most guys playing my position because instead of playing my position I played all the other positions on the defensive side of the ball except for one, and that was free safety.”
The West Virginia legend went from literally sleeping on the bench during practice early in his collegiate career to becoming a starter and one of the best defensive players for West Virginia in the early 1980’s.
“I went from sleeping on the field to becoming a consensus All-American, to playing in four Super Bowl’s,” Talley said. “I woke up, I woke up and actually started to work on my craft and do the things that were conducive for me to win.”
Throughout his four-year Mountaineer career, Talley collected 484 total tackles and 19 sacks from 1979 until his senior year in 1982. Talley’s senior season in the blue and gold was perhaps the best for the East Cleveland, Ohio, native as he went on to record 135 tackles, picked off a couple passes and sacked the quarterback seven times.
The hard-hitter in Talley drew many similarities to Mesidor as both enjoy hitting on the football field rather than being hit, as Talley explained prior to his number being retired against Texas Tech.
“I hated getting hit, that’s why I let my brother play offense I was not doing that, I was not getting hit. I’d much rather hit you than get hit because I figure I’m in control when I’m hitting you, that’s the way I approached it,” Talley said. “I did not want to get hit.”
The hard hitting and big bodied stoppage of offensive players are just a couple of the biggest similarities between both Mountaineers of the past and present in Talley and Mesidor, respectively.
The defensive ball hawk that patrolled Mountaineer field in the late 1970’s and early 80’s in Talley also played in four Super Bowl’s with the Buffalo Bills after being drafted in the second round with the 39th pick in the 1983 NFL Draft.
Both Mountaineers are greats of their own and provide their own unique skillset on the defensive side of the ball. Only time will tell if Mesidor can reach the heights that Talley reached in the NFL and being named one of the best college football players of all time.