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MCGILL: Herd Recruiting Light on Heavyweights -- For a Reason

Doc Holliday.
Feb. 1, 2017

By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – One by one, the signatures arrived to Marshall University’s football offices inside the Shewey Building.

One quarterback. Two running backs. Six wide receivers and a tight end. Three linebackers and three defensive backs joined, too. Count ’em up – that’s 16 of the 19 names MU coach Doc Holliday discussed at his National Signing Day press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

“I thought we met our needs,” Holliday said.

But, where are the big guys up front? Where are the men who’ll man the trenches? The Thundering Herd announced two defensive linemen and one offensive lineman in the Class of 2017, so the question was going to be asked.

“What you have with the offensive line – and every position that you recruit – you have a number you want to meet,” Holliday said in a 19-minute press conference after all of the signatures had dried. “It’s 15 (on the offensive line). We’re at 14 right there. We’re only down one with (Wednesday signee) Kyron Taylor coming in. We signed five offensive linemen a year ago.



“Those five guys, we like all five of them. They’re in the weight room now, they’re starting to develop, they’re starting to get the strength that they need. We like those young guys. I think the key is having those bodies on campus and the offensive line is that case.”

Ahh, OK. So that’s it. Recruiting is a numbers game and Marshall, which begins five weeks spring football drills March 27, had the positions up front covered with players who were already right here in Huntington.

Marshall lost veteran offensive lineman Clint Van Horn (34 career starts) and Michael Selby (33 career starts) to graduation, but the Herd returns seven offensive linemen with starting experience: Jordan Dowrey (24 career starts), Sandley Jean-Felix (17), Fedrice Binot (13), Levi Brown (12), A.J. Addison (9), Nate Devers (6) and Alex Locklear (1). There are seven others on campus, including the five Holliday mentioned.

“We all have numbers,” MU offensive line coach Alex Mirabal said during Marshall’s Signing Day Show at the Shewey Building. “At Marshall, we have slotted for having 15 scholarship offensive linemen. We’ve got 14, so we needed one more so that’s why you recruit one guy. Last year we took five. Coming up this year we’ll take three. It’s all based on that number.”

The one Marshall welcomed into the offensive line fold Wednesday was 6-foot-2, 271-pound Kyron Taylor, a South Dade High School product and Homestead, Florida, native. That is the same high school that produced rising sophomore linebacker Doyle Grimes and junior receiver Tyre Brady, the latter of whom was included in 2017’s signing class.

“It’s easy recruiting when you’re taking five offensive linemen,” Mirabal said. “It’s hard when you’re taking one. You’ve got to offer a group for only one spot. That’s tough. That’s why we only signed one. We only had an opening for one guy.”

The defensive linemen announced Wednesday were 6-3, 235-pound Rodney Croom and 6-3, 240-pound Jamare Edwards. Croom is from Winton Woods High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Edwards is from Carol City High School in Miami, Florida.

It is no secret the Herd was young on the defensive side of the ball last year, too. In fact, Marshall recorded 27 sacks as a team last season, and 11 players had at least one sack. Nine of those 11 players with at least one sack were freshmen and sophomores, so Croom and Edwards join a deep and youthful group who will be a year older, faster and stronger.

“We’re only one below our number at defensive tackle and defensive end, so we’re not that far off,” Holliday said. “Our numbers are not far off.”