The annual North-South Classic all-star football game will be played Saturday night in Charleston. Recently, the event started honoring former players from the game and now brings them back as North-South alumni.
One of this year's honorees is former East Bank star Chris Massey, whose story is a rare one.
He was a fine athlete for the Pioneers in the mid-1990s but no one really recruited him at the Division I level. He walked on at Marshall as a linebacker under Bob Pruett.
Since he wasn't playing at linebacker, he looked for another way to get on the field. He told his coaches, "You know I can long snap a little," so they gave him a shot. As it turns out, he was good at it. Good enough to win the job, and he never had a bad snap in his Marshall career.
As a senior, Massey was prolific enough to get drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2002 draft. He turned that opportunity into a 10-year career with the Rams and briefly with the Chicago Bears. One of his best friends with the Rams was former WVU quarterback Marc Bulger.
Once Massey earned some credibility, the Rams also used him as a backup fullback in certain situations.
Massey was not a big-name star when he played in the North-South game in 1997. The fans at that game had no idea that they were seeing a future NFL veteran, but now we know.
When I think of East Bank, I am often reminded of one of the names in Pioneer history who is often forgotten.
From 1968-71, Lanny Steed was one of the more exciting basketball players in the Kanawha Valley. A prolific scorer from the minute he stepped on the floor as a sophomore, Steed immediately began challenging the records of former Pioneer legend Jerry West.