Former Clarion Area Great Dave Wyncoop Named Top Player To Wear Number 39 In University Of Virginia Football History
(Images courtesy of the Wyncoop’s and Clarion Area High School Yearbooks – Above: UVA Senior Photo)
Former college athletes seldom receive recognition for their exploits 50-plus years after they competed. But such is the case of former University of Virginia football standout Dave Wyncoop, who had an outstanding scholastic career with the Clarion Area Bobcats, as he was named the Top Player to wear number 39, in Cavalier Football’s 135 year history (dating back to 1888), by Streaking the Lawn website.
Streaking the Lawn covers all University of Virginia Sports and is part of the SBNation network.
Streaking the Lawn also has a podcast and Facebook page. SBNation has affiliate websites etc. that cover professional sports teams (such as the NFL, NBA, NHL, WNBA and professional soccer) and college programs (all sports), throughout the US.
The article By Dan Siegel, “The best player to wear each number in UVA football Zero to ninety-nine in UVA football history – Zero to ninety-nine, here we go,” was published in August,
The lead-in states, “Football is almost back baby! And with the start of the 2022 football season just around the corner we’re looking back in time at the 135 year history of the Virginia football program by listing the best player to wear each number for the Virginia Cavaliers From 0 to 99, here we go.”
(Links to Streaking the Lawn, SBNation and the article itself are at the bottom of the article).
Mr. Wyncoop was a three year letterman for the Cavaliers (1967,68, 69), graduating in 1970 and UVA grad school in 1971. As a testament to his versatility, he saw starting time at three different positions, wide receiver, full back and tailback during his UVA career.
To highlight what an honor this recognition is, you need only to consider several of the others named to the list: Ronde Barber #19 (1997), Tiki Barber #21 (1997), Bill Dudley #35 (1941), James Farrior #42 (1996), Antonio Rice #47 (1986), Henry Jordan #74 (1957), Heath Miller #89 (2004), Chris Long #91 (2008)
Clarion Sports Zone caught up with Mr. Wyncoop, to get his thoughts on receiving this fine accolade as well as memories about his time at UVA and Clarion Area, as well as what he has done/is doing since his collegiate playing days.
(Enjoy this trip down Memory Lane, complete with some images folks from UVA and Clarion may recognize.)
About receiving the honor, and being named with such great company, Mr. Wyncoop shared, “Although it took a few years I was recently (2022) selected as the best player to have worn #39 in UVA football history covering 135 years.
“What an honor that was and I was quite surprised and humbled by it. First of all I was taken by surprise at the selection and after recovering, I was sort of overcome by the honor of such a distinction. It took a while for it to fully sink in.
“My wife, bless her heart, posted the article to all of her friends and family on Facebook and as a result I received a large number of congratulatory responses. It was quite humbling to say the least.
“It will remain an ever present comfort for having spent all of those years working so hard to be the best I could be in the sport.”
Mr. Wyncoop’s road to playing for the Cavaliers, took a turn or two and was helped along by some folks very dear to him. “After playing football all four years at Clarion High School, under the direction of Norm Zwald, who by the way was one of my best coaches, I approached moving on to the next level, with the wrong frame of mind. I assumed that because I had done so well in high school that “someone’ would just come along and scoop me up.
“I learned quickly (in those days) it did not work that way.
“So, with the help of my parents and Coach Zwald, I was fortunate enough to get a grant-in-aid to one of the top football and academic prep schools around, Bordentown Military Institute in Bordentown, New Jersey. I knew that if I did well there, I had a good shot at going on to West Point as BMI was their top feeder school.
“I did well there making the honor roll, finishing second in my class and earning first team All-Big East Prep football honors.”
In addition to West Point, others came calling. “I was then recruited by The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, but also by Temple, Pitt, Colorado State and Virginia.
“I picked UVA because it was a top academic institution and played in the distinctive Atlantic Coast Conference.” Mr. Wyncoop also mentioned that he liked the Cavaliers “wide open style of offensive football.”
Another reason for his choice. “Plus I liked the traditions laid down by its founder, Thomas Jefferson.”
“My decision to go to UVA was greatly influenced by my visit to the school and by my guide, who many in the Clarion Area will still remember, John Naponic from Irwin, PA.”
Mr. Wyncoop shared about his admiration about Naponic, “… a special guy “Big” John Naponic, who would become my mentor although I will say at 6′ 10″ and 310 pounds was not a running back like myself.”
He found the classroom challenging at first. “The first two years were very tough academically, I went from being an “A” student previously to becoming a “C” student.”
And there were gridiron challenges, as well. “Football was a similar experience. I found the competition very tough and highly competitive. I learned that as you advance things get tougher. I sometimes wondered if I’d make it. However, perseverance paid off in both areas.
“Freshmen, first year men at UVA, could not play varsity so I had to wait.
“In the spring, I had a severe knee injury (a complete hyperextension) which set me back, but through vigorous rehab and the help of Dr. John Brooks, in Clarion, I came back. In the over fifty years, since that time, I have never had a problem with my knee.”
“The knee injury, in the spring did slow my progress somewhat. I did well in the fall of my second year, but the decision was made to “redshirt” me. I practiced a lot with the first team offense that year, because one of the running backs was injured (he still played on Saturdays however).
“My first opportunity came the next year but I played behind the ACC Player of the Year, Frank Quayle.
“The next season, I branched out and started on and off at three positions, wide receiver, full back and tailback. That year was the particular year that put me on the top player list 0 to 99. During that year I received Special Recognition for my performance in the Purdue game (they were #1 in the nation at that time), the N.C. State game and the Wake Forest game. I scored the winning touchdown late in the Wake Forest game.
“We were 7-3 and tied for the ACC Conference Championship under the leadership of Coach George Blackburn.”
And from being a “C” student early on, he was named to the ACC All-Academic Honor Roll and elected as the treasurer of the School of Education. “To get a flavor of the social life, I joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.”
But the injury bug hit again. “My last year as the starting tail back (running back), was to be the highlight of my college football career (in my mind) but injuries, high ankle sprain in the first game against Clemson and the second, snapped foot ligaments in practice prior to the North Carolina game brought my high hopes crashing down.”
Mr. Wyncoop went in to his fifth year in peak condition, at 205 pounds, running a 4.6 forty on grass, in full equipment, including helmet and shoulder pads, and spikes, on the whistle. Not like today, with times typically taken on a synthetic surface, with the runners in shorts and timed from their first movement.
The term student/athlete describes Mr. Wyncoop’s time at UVA, with the “student” category serving him well, in the future.
“During my five years at UVA I earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Education degree.
“In January 1970, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and realized that I should just accept what happened in football and move on. From there I went on to teach and coach for a number of years here in the Richmond area.
“I spent the next nineteen years as a high school guidance counselor, at Manchester High School, in Chesterfield County. I was asked to coach the senior girls Power Puff football team. Chesterfield frowned on counselors coaching in regular seasonal sports. However I was permitted to coach the seniors for three years and during that time we were undefeated.”
“I was the head football coach at Charles City County High School in Charles City County, Virginia. Charles City County is close to Williamsburg. Prior to that I was an assistant football coach at perennial power Highland Springs High School in Highland Springs, near Richmond.
“After football, I found men’s slow pitch softball to fill that void and I played for a number of teams from the age of 25 through about 45 here in the Richmond Area, most notably for Shoney’s, who in the early 80’s, went on to play in the Nationals in Nashville, Tennessee.
“During that time I met my wife while securing a loan from the Bank of Virginia. She went from being my banker to becoming my wife. Her son, David, my stepson is a fisherman in Hatteras, North Carolina.
“We have two grandkids, Simon, 20, who is an EMT in Dare County, North Carolina and Andrea, 26, who is salon stylist with Ulta Cosmetics in Nags Head.
“During most of our marriage, for 30 years, we have found great comfort and pleasure as dog owners.
“Each one, and there were four, a German Shepherd, Wolfy and three Bouviers, Grover, Chance and Heavenly Sunshine “Sunny,” has contributed greatly to our lives. Did you ever realize that DOG is GOD spelled backwards?
We adopted Grover after Wolfy. In his previous life he was a show dog. He did quite well in the ring. After he died we adopted Chance.
“Sunny was our last. Like Wolfy she was ‘just a pet.’
“Carole and I are both pleasantly retired living in Midlothian, Virginia and have recently celebrated our 40th anniversary in July.”
Mr. Wyncoop, who is now seventy-six, has very fond memories of his days, way back when, at Clarion Area. I fondly remember my experience of having played football for Clarion High School, under the direction of Coach Norm Zwald and his assistants Dave Bevevino and Ray Austin from 1961 through the 1963 season.
“Coach Austin worked with the line primarily, but would often sneak in a word of encouragement to me from time to time and Coach Bevevino, my backfield coach, would definitely let me know when I needed to make adjustments. Coach Zwald was the glue that held it all together and was a true inspiration to me.”
Mr. Wyncoop was a member of the undefeated 1961 Bobcats squad, one of three Clarion teams to finish undefeated, along with 1947 and 1954. His older brother Howard was a member of the ’54 team.
Mr. (Dave) Wyncoop was Co-Captain along with Tom McElree during their 1963 senior season and was also Co-Captain of the basketball team with Frank Brooks.
“While playing for the Bobcats I earned some memorable honors which could not have come my way without the help of my teammates… I was named player of the game on several occasions in my junior and senior years, First team All-Conference in my senior year and Honorable Mention High School All-American by Coach and Athlete Magazine… Football is a team sport and you’re only as good as your teammates will allow.
“I can never express my gratitude for the support I received from my teammates, in football and other sports during my years at Clarion. The teammates were all wonderful!”
The story of Dave Wyncoop is one of perseverance in following a dream, overcoming obstacles along the way and recognizing that when that dream is over, there are other avenues to pursue.
Anyone reading this article can sense Mr. Wyncoop’s great love for his Lord, for his wife and family, for his coaches, teammates and others, whether from Clarion Area, Bordentown Military Institute or the University of Virginia and his thankfulness for them all, knowing that they all own a “piece” in this most recent accolade as well as all his accomplishments along the way.
Congratulations to Dave Carole, their family and all those mentioned above!! What a fine, fine honor a fine man!!
(Thank you to Clarion Area Athletic Director Nancy Mills, Attendance Secretary Rae Saver and Full-Time Substitute Felicity Moffett, Full-Time Substitute, for their assistance in getting the yearbook photos ready.)
(Below: Mr. Wyncoop’s stats at UVA and links)
Rushing & Receiving