MORGANTOWN—WVU Football Hall of Famer Donnie Young, who spent more than 40 years in various roles with the organization, died on Tuesday at the age of 77.
Young, who played at WVU in the 1960’s, served in several capacities under six different head coaches in his four decades with the Mountaineers.
Starting in 1970 under former head coach Bobby Bowden, Young was promoted to freshman coach, which became a new position as freshmen were permitted to play after the horrific Marshall University plane crash restricted the Herd to only fielding a team of frosh players.
Bowden then promoted Young to linebackers coach the following year and the latter stayed on even as Bowden left for Florida State and Frank Cignetti took over the program. In 1977, Young was named defensive coordinator for a year under Cignetti.
When Don Nehlen took over the Mountaineer program in 1980, Young was one of the few coaches who was retained, continuing to excel at his role of recruiting coordinator which he had assumed under Cignetti the previous two years.
Under Nehlen, Young held the title of recruiting coordinator from 1980-1992, and then returned as the linebackers coach in 1993. That season, the two-headed monster of Jake Kelcher and Darren Studstill led the Mountaineers to an 11-1 season which included a Big East title, and an invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl for a possible share of the National Championship.
“He was as good an evaluator of talent as anyone I’ve ever seen,” said Nehlen about Young. “Early on here, we couldn’t recruit anybody. It was murder. But Donnie would find a kid and say, “if we give him a year in the weight room, he’ll be special.”
Young served as the recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach until Nehlen retired in 2000.
In 2001, under former head coach Rich Rodriguez, Young decided to accept a position as the Varsity Club Coordinator as well as the Executive Assistant for High School and Alumni Relations.
When Rodriguez left for Michigan in December of 2007, Young was named Assistant to the Head Coach under then-new head coach Bill Stewart. He spent another year assisting former head coach Dana Holgorsen before finally retiring in 2012.
During Young’s time with the Mountaineers, the program experienced new heights, winning seven Big East championships while notching two undefeated regular seasons (1988 and 1993), participating in 25 bowl games, winning eight or more games 22 times, nine or more games 14 times, and 10 or more games six times.
He was inducted in the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.