Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MEC FOOTBALL ; School Records Fall for UC's Wagner

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MEC FOOTBALL ; School Records Fall for UC's Wagner

Article excerpt

The record that University of Charleston senior football player Torie Wagner now holds - the Golden Eagles' career leader in kick and punt return yards - is one he'd rather not have, at least not yet. That career mark came during Saturday's 45-25 loss at Shepherd, where he returned six kickoffs for 138 total yards. A lot of kick returns come from a lot of points allowed, something the all- Mountain East Conference defensive back doesn't want to see.

"I'd much rather win than get that, said Wagner, who was an all- MEC and all-American kick/punt returner last season. "I wish I didn't have that many kick returns the other day.

Still, he's proud to now own that record, and happy that he can contribute so much to the Golden Eagles' fortunes on both defense and special teams.

Following Saturday's game, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Wagner has amassed 1,130 yards and two touchdowns on 45 career kick returns and 528 yards and three touchdowns on 33 punt returns. His best season came in 2014, when he gained 359 yards and a touchdown on 12 kick returns and 404 yards and two touchdowns on 22 punt returns. Those numbers earned him a spot on the Beyond Sports Network Division II All-America third team.

UC coach Pat Kirkland said that, late in that season, opponents finally started kicking it away from Wagner.

"I think he would have broken all the records last year if they would have kicked it to him, Kirkland said.

That talent of corralling kicks and punts and sprinting for big yards is one that Wagner didn't really know he had until he arrived at Charleston. He was a first-team all-Anne-Arundel-County and second-team all-state defensive back at Old Mill High School in Millersville, Md.

"I remember when we recruited him and watched tape on him, I was surprised he was still available come signing day, Kirkland said. "I said, This kid is going to play as a freshman.'

Wagner played a little slot receiver at Old Mill, but never returned a kick or a punt. That recruiting film of his offensive snaps apparently was enough for UC coaches to give him a shot as a return man. …

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