Column by MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
MORGANTOWN — Grant Wiley, West Virginia University’s all-time leading football tackler with 492 from 2000-2003, has turned to music as a professional career.
The Trappe, Pa., native has been living in New York City for seven years and has done some singing. In the process, he has helped form a musical group named “G.n’8”.
Wiley, who revealed that he first became interested in music and the trombone in the fourth grade, said he’s planning to be a vocalist – not trombonist.
“We will be focusing on Electric Fusion music,” said Wiley, one of just 11 WVU Consensus All-Americans.
He said a “Mountaineer Nation” series of songs will be among the group’s first as a tribute to his alma mater. It is designed to provide entertainment in stadiums and at other sporting events.
Since 2006, the 6-foot-1, 235-pound former Mountaineer still has made a livelihood rendering in NYC, but mostly in the catering business. He patterned it after noting that artists have been similarly successful in Manhattan.
“I used catering as a way to entertain fashion parties and parties for very successful people and parties for the events that use catering,” Wiley explained.
A four-year starter, he received a Board of Regents degree with an emphasis on communications.
“I loved my five years at West Virginia,” he said. “It will always be very dear to me because of transformations that I went through as a player there. It was an extraordinary experience for me.
“We had great support from the whole state and we sometimes don’t easily realize it. I still do, though.”
After being redshirted as a freshman, Wiley played one season of football for the legendary Don Nehlen and then three for Coach Rich Rodriguez.
Wiley, who was heavily recruited by numerous schools, recalled that he came to WVU mainly because of defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich. He did the recruiting in that part of the East.
“I had heard a lot of good things about head coach Don Nehlen, too,” Wiley said. “I learned a great deal about not only football, but also about life from both men,” he remembered.
Wiley said while he dreamed only of making it to the NFL as a kid, it was at WVU that he discovered his interest in people and celebrations of entertainment. And it made him realize that he was something more than just a football player.
“After Nehlen retired and Rich Rodriguez took over, there was a completely different approach,” he said. “I did not always see eye-to-eye with him. But now, I think he has gained a lot of maturity.”
Wiley, who helped his teams to records of 7-5, 3-8, 9-4 and 8-5, appeared in three bowl games.
In addition to his record 492 total tackles, Wiley also wound up with an all-time high of 47.5 tackles for lost yardage. He played in 47 games, starting 44.
His other impressive stats include: 298 solo tackles, 194 assisted tackles, TFL yardage 152, QB sacks 9, for 29 yards, interceptions 8 and returned 74 yards, and two touchdowns, forced 9 fumbles, and recovered 2.
He played just one year in the NFL before forced to retire with a knee injury.