From the first down chant to the firing of the musket and the singing of “Country Roads,” the Mountaineers have many football game day traditions. This season, the team has started yet another tradition: the carrying of West Virginia’s state flag home and away.
Red-shirt senior and linebacker Jared Barber came up with the idea.
“Actually I brought that to Coach (Dana) Holgorsen’s attention,” Barber said. “I just thought it would be really cool — I mean, the pride we have, all the fans for this state, this team — so I thought it would be pretty cool for us and also the fans to see us carry out the state flag.”
Barber remembers the moment he carried the flag well.
“It was something pretty special. I put up an Instagram post and said it was my most memorable moment as a Mountaineer. It definitely was something special that I did, that I will carry around with me for the rest of my life for sure.”
On his Instagram, Barber said:
” I’m not a West Virginia native, but just like every other player who steps on Mountaineer field we become one of their own. I took great pride in carrying out our state flag Saturday night, I not only carried it out for our team but also for the 1.8 million amazing people in this great state. Carrying it out represented all of the tough, blue collar, hard working people of this state. We may not be the biggest or most powerful state but we will stand up and fight tooth and nail for what we want and believe in. I couldn’t have chosen a better TEAM , University, and state to call home. It truly was my greatest moment of being a mountaineer!”
Senior Cody Clay, a West Virginia out of Alum Creek, thinks it’s a great new tradition that the team loves.
“When I carried it, my first thought as we were walking through the tunnel (was), ‘Just don’t trip with it or catch the flag on the goalpost as we run by it.’ Then as I was waving the flag and as we ran out onto the field it was the most awesome feeling. It was like I was leading a group of warriors onto a battlefield.”
This experience for Clay was inspirational.
“I love the movie Braveheart so it kind of inspired me to copy William Wallace’s battle face paint for the next game.”
Redshirt senior Terrell Chestnut carried out the flag for West Virginia against Maryland.
“Honestly, I got a text message asking if I wanted to carry it out. It represents this great state of West Virginia, knowing that we have 1.8 million people behind us and us playing homage to the many great players and great people of the state.”
West Virginia has become a second home to many athletes since WVU’s first football season in 1891. Although KJ Dillon has not hoisted the flag yet, he would love the opportunity.
“It would mean a lot to me because, me being from Florida, this has grown as my second home. So just for me to represent the state, this team, my character, my family, it would mean a lot.”
The great Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.” Holgorsen has always pushed the idea of family, teamwork and pride for the state to his teams, including fun trips as a team off the field and the implementation of the Mountaineer Man Trip. The Mountaineer Man Trip was introduced by Holgorsen in 2011 as a nod to the rich coal mining history of the state of West Virginia.
Barber better explained how the players are chosen each game to have the honor of leading the team out with the flag.
“(We) kinda just pick a senior who implements all of those characteristics of working hard and a blue collar person, so you know, pick a player who has those.”
The tradition will continue this Saturday for Homecoming as the Mountaineers take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Game time set to kick-off at 7p.m. on ESPN2.