GRANGER TWP. — When West Virginia’s football team opens the 2011 season Sept. 4 against Marshall, Chris Snook will be on the sideline with the same butterflies he’s always had.
But this year the 2009 Highland graduate won’t be holding a helmet in his right hand.
A tenacious running back and linebacker in high school, Snook has never had a problem shying away from opponents. The one adversary the 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior could never beat was a doctor’s prognosis.
When Snook left a game against UConn in late October of last season with head trauma, the hulking H-back for the Mountaineers feared he might have played his last down.
Plagued by what he estimated to be between four and six concussions in high school, Snook felt the same symptoms after the game with the Huskies.
After visiting with the athletic trainer, he was referred to a neurologist and tests showed another concussion. That’s when he was told it was probably a good idea to stop playing the game he loved so much.
“I kind of had an idea that’s what it was,” Snook said. “I had some pretty bad headaches throughout camp and that was a concern. Obviously, I wanted to play. I was starting to get some playing time.
“I had no other choice but to stop playing. I’ll always look at it perceptively, though. I had a good run at football and it opened up a lot of doors. The biggest one was a free education to a good school.”
The 2008 Gazette MVP rushed for 1,851 yards his senior year at Highland while taking the Hornets to the Division II regional finals.
Snook’s name still dots the Highland record books, as his 301 yards rushing against Cloverleaf as a senior are a school record, as are his 3,866 career yards.
A marketing major, it’s now time for Snook to hit the books instead of the blocking sleds, and he is ready to attack things with the same fervor he did on the gridiron.
“Now, I can do some things I want to do,” he said. “I plan on studying in Germany next fall and getting into some internships and I’m very excited about that. Division I football ties you down for sure in terms of doing other things.
“I’ll try to have some relations with the team and the new coach (Dana Holgorsen). I want to do something that will help me as well as help out the program.”
Snook is still on scholarship, receiving what is called medical hardship, and is looking into possibly helping out with the video production aspect for the football team.
While he says he won’t follow in the footsteps of his dad and brother and join the coaching ranks, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have some encouraging words for West Virginia football as it embarks on a new season under Holgorsen, who takes over for Bill Stewart.
Holgorsen is an offense-first coach coming over from Oklahoma State. The Cowboys led the nation in total offense during the regular season and finished No. 2 in passing offense and No. 3 in total and scoring offense. OSU averaged 520.23 yards, including 345.9 passing, and 44.23 points per game.
“I honestly think it will be back to what it was when they were going to BCS bowls all the time,” Snook said. “The offense will have everyone playing catch-up. It fits our personnel to exactly what it needs to be.”
While watching the first few games might sting a bit, Snook won’t mind missing the grind and is planning on heading to as many games as he can. He’ll do so with a clear conscious.
“I’ll miss football, but it was going to end one of these days,” he said. “You move on from it.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.