Ramblers hear WVU AD Luck’s message

PARKERSBURG -Ambassador for the NFL is a role West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck takes seriously.

On Thursday afternoon, Luck visited the practice field at Madison Elementary School and spoke to the North Parkersburg Ramblers youth football program.

Through USA Football and the Heads Up program, Luck is promoting concussion awareness and the proper techniques for tackling.

“I’m a big believer in the importance of football as a sport,” Luck said. “It’s a great sport for kids. As an athletic director, it’s a sport that drives our business. Without football, we probably wouldn’t have a volleyball team or a swim team.

“It’s the most popular sport in the country, so we want to see the sport grow, develop and stay healthy.”

The three teams which make up the Ramblers range from age 5 to 12 and enlists 88 players. The Ramblers are one of only two programs in the state of West Virginia which are Heads Up members. The other is located south of Weirton with the Follansbee Blue Wave.

“This is a program sponsored by the NFL that helps coaches gain knowledge on how to work at the youth level,” Ramblers commissioner/president Mike Pfaff said. “It teaches the proper techniques, whether it’s tackling or blocking. These head injuries with the concussion syndrome is getting to be a big deal, and we’re trying to take the head out of the game.”

Luck is a former quarterback who played at both the collegiate level with WVU and in the NFL with the Houston Oilers. He also coached at the Pop Warner level for his son, Andrew, who eventually became an overall No. 1 draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts.

“The program should grow since the NFL has put plenty of money and plenty of advertising power to help promote it,” Andrew Luck said. “As more and more coaches realize how important it is – even if they played the game like I did, it’s good to take a refresher course.”

Following his stop in Parkersburg, which included watching his son, Addison, play a soccer match for Morgantown against Parkersburg South at Erickson All-Sports Facility that same evening, Oliver Luck’s itinerary included an NFL game in Indianapolis between the Colts and Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

In between, the WVU football team has a game scheduled for Saturday in Norman, Okla., with the Sooners. Last year, Oklahoma defeated WVU 50-49 despite a school-record 344 yards rushing and 572 all-pupose yards by Tavon Austin.

The 1-0 Mountaineers are coming off a 24-17 win against William & Mary.

“We have a lot of things to work on, but I think our defense will be more aggressive,” Oliver Luck said. “We need every phase of our game to click against Oklahoma because they are an awfully good team. There’s no question we will have our work cut out.

“Last year was a great football game. Tavon Austin had maybe the best performance of a college player I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”