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August 6, 2013

Countdown to Labor Day: 27



The countdown to the start of the 2013 season is under way, as Pitt is 27 days away from its Labor Day opener against Florida State at Heinz Field. Panther-Lair.com is counting down the days until the biggest season opener in recent memory.

Today's number is 27, so we're looking at one of Pitt's greatest players from the early days.

The name Gibby Welch probably doesn't resonate with Pitt fans, but students of the program's history should familiarize themselves with Gilbert Laverne Welch, since he was arguably the greatest Panther until Marshall Goldberg arrived on campus a few years later.

During his three active seasons at Pitt from 1925-27, Welch was a dynamic force. He led the Panthers in rushing in 1925 and 1926, led the team in passing all three years and was the leading receiver in 1926 as well.

Welch holds several Pitt records from his career. His 105-yard kickoff return against West Virginia in 1927 is tied with two other players - both played before Welch - for the longest kick returns in Pitt history. And his 80-yard runs against Penn State in 1925 and Westminster in 1926 rank among the 12 longest rushes in school history. He also caught a 76-yard pass from James Hagan against Nebraska in 1927 that ranks among the 20 longest passing plays at Pitt.

At the end of his career, Welch had 4,108 all-purpose yards, a Pitt record that stood until Tony Dorsett passed him in the 1970's, and Ray Graham moved into second last season, bumping Welch to third on the all-purpose list.

A native of Parkersburg, WV, who made his name as a prep quarterback, Welch became the key cog in Jock Sutherland's single-wing offense. He played in the first game at Pitt Stadium in 1925 and as a senior in 1927 he led Pitt to its first bowl game, a 7-6 loss to Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Welch was a unanimous All-America selection in 1927.

Previous entries in the Countdown

Countdown: 28 - History in the making
Countdown: 29 - The fourth national title
Countdown: 30 - A team loaded with NFL players
Countdown: 31 - The fifth national title
Countdown: 32 - The longest winning streak
Countdown: 33 - The best to wear the uniform
Countdown: 34 - The backup to a legend
Countdown: 35 - A brief but superlative career
Countdown: 36 - National championship No. 7
Countdown: 37 - A shared passing record
Countdown: 38 - Sutherland's last year
Countdown: 39 - "Dandy Dick" Cassiano
Countdown: 40 - The unheralded tackling machine
Countdown: 41 - Another versatile mid-century athlete
Countdown: 42 - One of the greatest
Countdown: 43 - Pitt vs. the 2013 opponents
Countdown: 44 - An unfortunate score
Countdown: 45 - The Rhino
Countdown: 46 - The great Bimbo
Countdown: 47 - A huge effort in a tough loss
Countdown: 48 - The highest-scoring game
Countdown: 49 - The sack master
Countdown: 50 - The winningest coach in Pitt history
Countdown: 51 - A kicking record
Countdown: 52 - The link between Goldberg and Dorsett
Countdown: 53 - The legacy of Henry Ford
Countdown: 54 - A "Corny" mid-century quarterback
Countdown: 55 - Pitt makes history
Countdown: 56 - Panthers in the Super Bowl
Countdown: 57 - A unique scoring title
Countdown: 58 - Another Dorsett record
Countdown: 59 - The rare 59-point game
Countdown: 60 - A record that won't be broken
Countdown: 61 - Pitt's longest-running rivalry
Countdown: 62 - The last touchdown against Penn State
Countdown: 63 - The No Bowl Panthers
Countdown: 64 - The most passes in a game
Countdown: 65 - The other 13-9
Countdown: 66 - A local star
Countdown: 67 - One-win seasons
Countdown: 68 - The most prolific receiving game
Countdown: 69 - One of the biggest plays in Pitt history
Countodwn: 70 - The origin of Pitt's nine championships
Countdown: 71 - A good player in a bad era
Countdown: 72 - An All-American who became a dentist
Countdown: 73 - May Day
Countdown: 74 - A "groundwork" season
Countdown: 75 - A successful DL-to-OL move
Countdown: 76 - The 1976 national championship
Countdown: 77 - The last three-sport athletes
Countdown: 78 - An underrated pro
Countdown: 79 - One of the best
Countdown: 80 - The greatest non-championship team in Pitt history
Countdown: 81 - A crushing end to a great season
Countdown: 82 - The dawn of the Foge Era
Countdown: 83 - The most accurate kicker in Pitt history
Countdown: 84 - Pitt in the Pro Bowl
Countdown: 85 - A play that will never be matched
Countdown: 86 - A long but unfulfilled play
Countdown: 87 - The final year of Ironhead
Countdown: 88 - Pitt's All-American tradition
Countdown: 89 - Iron Mike
Countdown: 90 - The four 9-0's
Countdown: 91 - The two longest plays in Pitt history
Countdown: 92 - The senior year of the most productive QB in Pitt history
Countdown: 93 - The only 9-3 season in Pitt history
Countdown: 94 - The statistical oddity of 1994
Countdown: 95 - A relentless player and his dominant season
Countdown: 96 - The biggest win in Pitt history
Countdown: 97 - A dominant current Panther
Countdown: 98 - A transition year
Countdown: 99 - Hugh Green
Countdown: 100 - A look at Pitt in 1913






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