The West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics will retire football’s No. 77, in honor of consensus All-American and College Football Hall of Famer Bruce Bosley, at the season opener against Missouri September 3.
Bosley earned consensus All-America honors in 1955 for the Mountaineers as a two-way tackle for coach Art “Pappy” Lewis. Bosley was a four-year letter winner from 1952– 55, combining brute strength with the agility of a much smaller player to be named to 12 All-America teams.
Selected as the AP National Player of the Week following WVU’s 19-14 upset of Penn State in 1954, Bosley was also a CoSIDA Academic All-American and played in the College All-Star Game, North-South Game and the Senior Bowl.
Bosley teamed with fellow linemen Sam Huff and Gene “Beef” Lamone to help West Virginia to a 31-7 record, including a 3-1 mark against Penn State and two wins over Pitt. He was a key member of West Virginia’s 1954 Sugar Bowl team that finished with an 8-2 record and a Southern Conference championship.
A second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 1956, he went on to become an immediate starter for the 49ers at defensive end and played all but two minutes of his first season at that spot. He moved to offensive guard and then to center in 1962, where he excelled and was a 49er team captain in 1967 and 1968. He finished his playing career with the Atlanta Falcons in 1969.
Bosley was named to the Sporting News Western Conference All-Star team as a guard in 1959, a distinction he earned again in 1961. He earned Pro Bowl status in 1961 as an offensive guard and again in 1966, 1967 and 1968 as a center.
Upon retirement, Bosley was well-known in the San Francisco area for his charitable endeavors. He served on the board of directors for the San Francisco Annex for Cultural Arts, he was on the mayor’s committee for the San Francisco Council for the Performing Arts, and was a long-serving volunteer with the San Francisco Film Festival and the San Francisco Ballet.
Bosley also went on to be the president of the NFL Alumni Association, and become a member of the 49ers “Golden Era” team from 1946-69. He was selected to college football’s Silver Anniversary team in 1981, WVU’s all-time football team (1950-59), inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982, the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, and the newly formed Mountaineer Legends Society in 2016.
The WVU Athletic Council retired his jersey in 2014, which made him eligible for number retirement. Since then, the Mountaineer Legends Society has replaced the jersey retirement, and Bosley again met all requirements for the retirement of No. 77. Those requirements include an undergraduate degree from WVU, induction into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, induction into a national hall of fame, and a member of the Mountaineer Legends Society.
Bosley’s No. 77 becomes the third WVU football number to be retired following Sam Huff’s No. 75 and Ira “Rat” Rodgers No. 21. Bosley passed away on April 26, 1995, in San Francisco. Currently, junior offensive lineman Marcell Lazard wears No. 77 for the Mountaineers, and he will finish his career in that number before it goes into permanent retirement.
An on-field presentation with the Bosley family is planned during the Missouri game, and the No. 77 will be permanently displayed on the southwest upper deck of Milan Puskar Stadium.
Bosley was a 1952 graduate of Green Bank High School.