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Press Release – 17 Degrees of Football

Cody Clay graduation
Cody Clay (courtesy Cody Clay Facebook fan page)

Article Courtesy Mike Montoro, WVU Athletic Communication;

There are many important events over the course of a student-athlete’s career, whether it’s on the field of play or away from it. But the single-most important date in the life of a student-athlete comes at the end of his collegiate journey – graduation.

Today at West Virginia University, nine football players reached a certain level of satisfaction when they walked across the stage and had their degree conferred on them. And once they play in their final game on Jan. 2 in the Cactus Bowl, a majority of these players will no longer wear the distinction of being a student-athlete.

Hard work and perseverance on and off the field have added to their football resume, as well as their personal preparation for life after football. Graduation is a reward that is shared with family, friends and teammates.

“This is great achievement for the WVU football program, being recognized as one of the top programs in the nation for having a high number of graduates playing in their bowl game,” WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen said. “It shows the amount of character and the work ethic we have in our football program, that these guys take their responsibility seriously on the field as well as off the field. Academic success is contagious, and we are hopeful this work ethic and desire gets passed down to the younger players in the locker room.”

Heading into the 2015 season, eight WVU football players already completed their graduation requirements, and today the football program added nine more to the list.

“Seventeen football student-athletes have added college graduate to their resume,” Associate Director of Athletics for Student-Athlete Performance Brady Rourke said. “Earning the diploma, while participating in varsity athletics, is a significant accomplishment. Football student-athletes must maximize their physical capabilities for the team and be disciplined academically to prepare for a professional future off the gridiron.”

Seventeen football players will go into battle against Arizona State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, prepared for life after football with their degree in hand. The total amount marks a tie with Penn State for the 10thmost graduates heading into a bowl game among all FBS schools in the nation and second among Big 12 institutions. Alabama leads the nation with 29.

“Congratulations to our Mountaineer football graduates, who successfully utilized the mental toughness required to balance football and academics,” Rourke added. “The reward is a diploma from West Virginia University, the key to continued personal and professional growth. On behalf of the Office of Student-Athlete Development, we appreciate your hard work and are honored to celebrate this accomplishment with you.”

West Virginia faces Arizona State in the 2016 Motel 6 Cactus Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 2, at 10:15 ET at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz.

2015 WVU Fall Graduates

Darren Arndt (TE/FB) – Martinsburg, W.Va. – Sport Management

Played in 14 career games … Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll … All-Big 12 Academic

First team

Cody Clay (TE/FB) – Alum Creek, W.Va. – Computer Science

Named the 2015 Loyalty Permanent Endowment Fund Louis Meisel Award recipient,

awarded by the WVU Alumni Association to the top senior on the team with the highest grade

point average … played in 50 career games and started 24 … Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor


Karl Joseph (S) – Orlando, Fla. – Multidisciplinary Studies

2015 CBSSports All-American Second Team, All-Big 12 Conference First Team …

played in 42 straight games over his career until sustaining season-ending injury in early part

of 2015 season … Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll … 284 career tackles, 209 assisted tackles

16.5 tackles for loss, 14 pass breakups, nine interceptions, eight forced fumbles, six FR

Marquis Lucas (OL) – Miami, Fla. – Multidisciplinary Studies

Three-year starter at tackle … played in 26 games and started 29, including all 25 over past

two years … Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll

Tony Matteo (OL) – Clinton, Ohio – Multidisciplinary Studies

As a redshirt junior, he has played in 17 career games and started two … Big 12

Commissioner’s Honor Roll

Nick O’Toole (P) – Corona, Calif. – Psychology

Punted in all 37 games since coming to WVU … 2015 All-Big 12 First Team Selection …

2013 All-Big 12 Second Team Honoree … All-Big 12 Academic Second Team … Big 12

Commissioner’s Honor Roll … 65 punts, 2968 yards, 45.7 average, 14 TB, 18 FC, 24 I-20, 26 50+

Shaq Petteway (LB) – Steubenville, Ohio – Multidisciplinary Studies

Played in 50 career games and started 11 … 58 total tackles,45 unassisted, 9.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks

Kyle Rose (DL) – Centerville, Ohio – Criminology

Played in 50 career games and started 32, including 25 straight as a junior and senior

2015 All-Big 12 Conference Second Team (AP) … 43 tackles, 36 unassisted, four sacks, five TFLs

Dayron Wilson (CB) – Woodbridge, Va. – Sociology and Anthropology

Key member of special teams as a junior … had to sit out senior season with injury


Players who graduated prior to 2015 football season

Jared Barber (LB) – Mocksville, N.C. – Multidisciplinary Studies

2015 Curtis Jones Jr., Achievement Award for demonstrating excellence in all areas of his

college career … played in 43 career games and started 24, including 11 as a senior … 57 total

tackles, 40 unassisted, 2.5 sacks, 10.5 TFLs, one FR returned 42 yards for a touchdown

Isaiah Bruce (DE) – Jacksonville, Fla. – Business Management

Played in 49 career games and started 20 … Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll
Terrell Chestnut (CB) – Pottstown, Pa. – Sociology and Anthropology

Played in 39 games and started 26 … two-year starter … Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll

     35 total tackles, 31 unassisted, three interceptions, nine pass breakups, two forced fumbles

Skyler Howard (QB) – Fort Worth, Texas – Communication Studies

As a redshirt junior, he has played in 16 games and started 14 … started 14 straight games

2015 All-Big 12 Academic Second Team … 193-of-352 attempts, 2,613 yards, 21 touchdowns

Nick Kwiatkoski (LB) – Bethel Park, Pa. – Multidisciplinary Studies

2015 ProFootballFocus All-American First Team … All-Big 12 First Team Selection …

Played in 47 games and started 36, including 35 straight … 80 total tackles, 57 unassisted, 3.0

Sacks, 10.0 TFLs, three interceptions, seven pass breakups, one forced fumble

KJ Myers (WR) – Jacksonville, Fla. – Sociology and Anthropology

Played in 45 games and started two … Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll

Jordan Thompson (WR) – Katy, Texas – Criminology

Played in 48 games and started 18

Stone Underwood (OL) – Brookhaven, Miss. – Multidisciplinary Studies

Played in 15 games and started one in his two years at WVU … Big 12 Commissioner’s

Honor Roll


Jeremy Simon
Founder and publisher of, Jeremy is also a contributor to USA Today as well as covers the Mountaineers for Athlon Sports. Follow on Twitter @JSi07
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