Jan. 25, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Recruiting is never easy, but Marshall Coach Doc Holliday has 47 reasons why trying to sell his Thundering Herd football program could be enhanced in these crunch hours before National Signing Day on Feb. 6.
Or, make that XLVII reasons.
Marshall has four players on active rosters for next weekend’s Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, with wide receiver Randy Moss and safety C.J. Spillman playing for San Francisco, and linebacker Albert McClellan and rookie safety Omar Brown with the Baltimore Ravens.
Among collegiate programs, only Miami – with five – has more in this Super Bowl. Marshall’s quartet on active rosters ties the Herd record of four from Super Bowl XLII five years ago, when the New York Giants and ex-MU running back Ahmad Bradshaw edged New England.
That Patriot team included Moss, punter Chris Hanson and wideout Troy Brown, who was on the game roster but made inactive for that game due to injury. Former Herd tight end Jason Rader wasn’t on the 53-man roster, but was part of the Pats’ practice squad.
“Anytime you get Marshall represented like we are in the Super Bowl, it helps a lot in recruiting,” Holliday said Friday as snow fell outside his Shewey Building office. “All of those kids, I’m sure, had a dream of playing in the Super Bowl, and now they are there.
“You go into a home or a school, as I have the last couple of weeks, and you talk about it. Your dream is to play in the NFL? Well, guess what? It can happen at Marshall. Other than just (Miami, with five), we’ve got more people playing in the Super Bowl than anyone.
“It shows kids you come to Marshall and not only get a good education, but you can realize your dream as far as the NFL is concerned, too.”
This is the ninth time in 12 years that Marshall has had at least one former player on an active roster in the Super Bowl, including six of the last seven (including the 2013 game). One of those exceptions was Super Bowl XLIV (2010), when 1960s Herd quarterback and assistant coach Larry Coyer was the Indianapolis defensive coordinator.
Holliday and the Herd also are getting mileage this weekend – with four prospects scheduled to make recruiting visits – from MU senior wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who will play for the North squad in Saturday’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
No question, it’s a plus,” Holliday said, “and Aaron’s done well (in workouts) from what I understand. I’ve been talking to him throughout the process and he’s helped himself.
“Anytime Marshall can get exposure with the Super Bowl or the Senior Bowl, it’s just another example of how kids can reach their dream through here.
“By going to the Senior Bowl, Dobson is doing the same thing (Philadelphia Eagles rookie defensive end) Vinny Curry did a year ago. He helped himself tremendously in the Senior Bowl workouts, the exposure.
“It’s just one part of the process. The next step in the (NFL) Combine, how Aaron does there, doing interviews, answering questions, 40-(yard) times, all the things they do there. There’s our Pro Day here (March 13). It’s a long, drawn-out process for the NFL to find out what it wants about you.”
Holliday returned from the recruiting road Thursday night and is headed back out all of next week. He’s also trying to fill three assistant coaching position and expects one official announcement early next week, but said the other two hires may have to wait until “around or right after Signing Day because I’ll be on the road.”
New strength coach Scott Sinclair reported to the Shewey Building on Friday, too.
Holliday, heading toward his fourth season as the Herd coach, is keyed up about the Herd’s recruiting to date after a 2012 season that boasted a record-setting offense that led the nation in passing, via the arm of rising junior quarterback Rakeem Cato.
Of the 16 reported commitments on recruited-based websites, five players already are enrolled in classes this semester.
Holliday said the Herd will have “21 initial counters” when all is said and done.
“I’m happy where it is, we just have to finish,” Holliday said of the recruiting effort. “We’re just one or two away from wrapping up this class. If we can hang onto what we’ve got (committed), get a couple breaks here or there with a couple of players here at the end, it will be a good class.”
Holliday said linebacker Stefan Houston, offensive lineman Tyler Combs, safety Taj Letman (signed in December), quarterback Kevin Anderson and wideouts Angelo Jean-Louis, Deontay McManus and Shawney Kersey (Penn State transfer) are enrolled this semester and most will be eligible to play this coming season.
“It’s a great advantage for all of those guys to be here this semester,” Holliday said. “They have the opportunity to get started on classes, go through winter conditioning, go through spring ball. It gives them a leg up on the rest of the guys coming in.”
Five players who sat out last season but “all good to go” for 2013, he said, are linebacker Kent Turene, cornerback Corey Tindal, defensive end Larry Jefferson, defensive tackle Josh Brown and DE/LB Gary Thompson.
Freshman All-America punter Tyler Williams, who set a Herd single-season record for yard-per-punt as a 2012 walk-on, also will count toward the signing class since he’s on scholarship now, Holliday said.
The Herd coach added that the need to balance classes and position needs is happening, too.
“We have numbers at each position, and we’ve met those numbers,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ll meet our goals.”
As for the Conference USA scheduling matchups revealed earlier this week, Holliday said, “It is what it is. I let Mike (Hamrick, Marshall athletic director) worry about the schedule, and I worry about recruiting, getting the team prepared to go play.”
Marshall gets East Carolina, Southern Miss, UAB and UTSA at home, and goes to FIU, FAU, Middle Tennessee and defending league champion Tulsa.
Asked about making two trips to a south Florida region where Holliday and his staff are known for plucking prospects annually – see Cato, wideout Tommy Shuler, running back Kevin Grooms, corner Keith Baxter, etc. – he smiled about visiting new members FIU and FAU.
“Well, the kids will be excited about it (two trips to Miami area),” Holliday said. “I’m a coach. I’d rather have one home, one away.”
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Former Marshall University players and coaches on Super Bowl, NFL, AFL and AAFC Championship Game rosters. Years listed are date game was played (list compiled by Herd Insider Publisher Woody Woodrum):
Baltimore Ravens – S Omar Brown, LB Albert McClellan
San Francisco 49ers – WR Randy Moss, S C.J. Spillman
New York Giants 21 – RB Ahmad Bradshaw
New England Patriots 17 -- QB Chad O’Shea (Patriots’ receivers coach)
Green Bay Packers 31
Pittsburgh Steelers 25 – QB Byron Leftwich, OL Doug Legursky
New Orleans Saints 31
Indianapolis Colts 17 – QB and MU assistant coach Larry Coyer (Colts’ defensive coordinator)
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 – QB Byron Leftwich, OL Doug Legursky
Arizona Cardinals 23
New York Giants 17 – RB Ahmad Bradshaw
New England Patriots 14 – WR Troy Brown (inactive; injured), P Chris Hanson, WR Randy Moss; TE Jason Rader (practice squad)
Indianapolis Colts 29 – DE Johnathan Goddard (injured reserve)
Chicago Bears 17
New England Patriots 24 – WR Troy Brown
Philadelphia Eagles 21 – TE/LS Mike Bartrum
Carolina Panthers 29
New England Patriots 32 – WR Troy Brown
St. Louis Rams 17
New England Patriots 20 – WR Troy Brown, TE Jermaine Wiggins
New England Patriots 21 – WR Troy Brown (injured), TE/LS Mike Bartrum
Green Bay Packers 35
NFL, AFL or AAFC Championship Games
Green Bay Packers 23
Cleveland Browns 12 – Assistant coach Ed Ulinski
Cleveland Browns 27 – Assistant coach Ed Ulinski
Baltimore Colts 0
Detroit Lions 59 – C Frank Gatski
Cleveland Browns 14 – Assistant coach Ed Ulinski
Cleveland Browns 38 – C Frank Gatski, assistant coach Ed Ulinski
Los Angeles Rams 14
Cleveland Browns 56 – C Frank Gatski, assistant coach Ed Ulinski
Detroit Lions 10
Detroit Lions 17
Cleveland Browns 16 – C Frank Gatski
Detroit Lions 17
Cleveland Browns 7 – C Frank Gatski
Los Angeles Rams 24
Cleveland Browns 17 – C Frank Gatski
Cleveland Browns 30 – C Frank Gatski
Los Angeles Rams 28
Cleveland Browns 21 – C Frank Gatski, G Ed Ulinski
San Francisco 49ers 0
Cleveland Browns 49 – C Frank Gatski, G Ed Ulinski
Buffalo Bills 7
Cleveland Browns 14 – C Frank Gatski, G Ed Ulinski
New York Yankees 3
Cleveland Browns 14 – C Frank Gatski, G Ed Ulinski
New York Yankees 9