West Virginia's Devine alters goals
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Noel Devine entered this season with aspirations of becoming West Virginia's all-time leading rusher.
But a bone bruise to the senior running back's big toe during the Mountaineers' third game of the season against LSU halted any chance of reaching that goal.
"It's frustrating ... I know that I can't do what I want to do," Devine said. "It's frustrating that I can't be out there with the team during my senior season.
Devine also tweaked his knee and ankle against Louisville on Nov. 20, further limiting his touches. He admitted he can run well in a straight line but is unable to make cuts as well as he has previously in his career.
"You've got a great chance to see me at 100 percent this weekend and definitely in the bowl game," Devine said.
The Ft. Myers, Fla., native still leads the Mountaineers with 855 rushing yards and six touchdowns, but he's had only one 100-yard showing since the LSU game. He averaged more than 24 carries per game through the first three contests this season, but he has carried the ball more than 20 times just twice in the past eight.
"He knows he's not where he wants to be," WVU running backs coach Chris Beatty said. "But he wants to help at the same time. Noel is Noel. When he's on the field, he's a threat."
Devine has started to show signs that he's recovering, especially last week against Pitt. He caught a swing pass and took it 48 yards to the 2-yard line during the second half. He also averaged 6.75 yards on four rushes in the 35-10 win.
While struggling with the injuries, Devine has learned to become more of a leader. That became crucial when the Mountaineers lost two straight games this season — against Syracuse and Connecticut.
"Just knowing that you can't play to your fullest and losing those games were tough," Devine said. "Knowing that I couldn't be out there, I knew I just needed to encourage my team and become more vocal."
Devine, who came in as a freshman with thoughts of entering the NFL early, will play his final collegiate game at noon Saturday in Milan Puskar Stadium against Rutgers. He now believes a college degree and a Big East title — which WVU will share with a win over the Scarlet Knights — are more important than any record he was close to achieving.
"It would mean a lot to me," said Devine of winning the Big East. "When I came in as a freshman, winning the Big East was something we were used to. Now, we haven't won it in two years. We just have to take care of business."
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