April 8, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – It’s one thing to arrive in college football with a reputation.
It’s another to prove and polish that “rep” while you’re getting reps in spring practice.
So it goes for Corey Tindal, the Marshall rookie cornerback who has a nose for the ball and nose to the grindstone.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Tindal is providing needed depth at cornerback, and he’s already stepped into a nickel spot with the kind of verve safety D.J. Hunter once brought to the position. Tindal also is being “worked into” punt and kick return duty, Herd Coach Doc Holliday said.
Asked for the name of a player he’s really noticed in the first two weeks of spring drills, Holliday didn’t hesitate to mention the Floridian who sat out last year.
“From the time he walked on campus, he never missed a class, never missed a study hall, never missed a tutor, a weight room session,” Holliday said. “Football’s important to Corey. He loves to play and he runs around out there making plays. Right now, he’s one of our better players.
“He’s playing nickel, he’s playing corner and we’re going to work him in on (punt and kick) returns. We’ve got to find a way to get him on the field because he loves football, he’s good at it and it shows.”
Tindal, of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., was an FIU signee out of Boyd Anderson High, but wound up taking a 2011 prep season at Atlanta Sports Academy – the same route as his high school and current redshirt freshman Herd teammate, linebacker Kent Turene.
They both enrolled at MU in the spring of 2012.
“I really missed the game,” Tindal said after Saturday’s sixth Herd spring workout. “Sitting out, it was almost two years, and it made me hungry to play and taught me how much it means to me. I’m glad to be back and I’m glad to be here.
“Marshall helped show me you can do it in the classroom. That really messed me up in my recruiting from the beginning, and they taught me here I could really do it in the classroom. So, they’re helping me, and I want to pay Marshall back for that.”
He apparently isn’t going to have to wait much to do that. Tindal ranked as the nation’s No. 52 cornerback prospect as a high school senior in 2010, and his offers included Maryland, Minnesota, Western Kentucky and a few Mid-American Conference schools.
He was called “a versatile, explosive athlete” by Rivals.com.
His play in his first two weeks in jersey No. 19 for the Herd has underscored that assessment.
“Corey goes hard, plays at a high pace,” said new Marshall defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, who also is coaching the Herd secondary. “He’s not out there deciding when to go hard and when not to go hard.
“He plays one way and that’s a good thing in the game of football and guys that go like that are rewarded typically. So he’s around the ball, makes plays because of that. That’s a really good characteristic to have as a football player.”
Tindal has been on the field mostly as a nickel back, and in early drills has been running as a second-team corner.
“I think Coach (Holliday) likes my aggressiveness at nickel,” Tindal said when told of Holliday’s praise. “I come hard to make tackles and I’m not afraid to put my helmet in there. It’s mostly at nickel, but some corner.
“I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity, whatever it is. I just come out here to show my ability and find a way to help the team, to do better than what we did last year.”
Tindal said it was “difficult” watching the Herd finish 5-7 with a season-long struggle on defense during his first year of college.
“I tried to show up as much as I could to support (the team),” he said. “Now, every day I’m out here is like game day to me. I want to take advantage, take out my frustration. I watch film and when I’m not getting reps, I’m watching when other guys are getting reps. I just want to see where football can take me.”
Tindal was a high school running back and corner. He was safety during his prep school year.
“I just consider myself a ballplayer,” he said. “I’m out there to make plays, period. I’ve got speed and I can hit, but you have to know what you’re doing.
“Every day we come out here and I learn, and I talk with Coach Heater – he’s a great coach -- and he shows me my mistakes and we go from there. I come out the next day and try to correct myself. It’s really my first time being coached at defensive back.
“A lot of it is technique. If you have to run at stuff, you’re too late. I just love the game and I’m going to work hard at it. It’s just me giving a lot of effort every day at that position. I need to keep showing coaches I have the ability to make plays, and I know what’s I’m doing and fit the scheme.”
Holliday and Heater don’t expect anything otherwise from Tindal.
“He’s a real football guy, and he’s thinking about football all the time,” Heater said. “He asks really good questions, things that really, frankly, the two of us have been taking about, but he’s thinking about football and that’s huge.
“He cares. Those that are into the game get rewarded. Between his pace and tempo, just kind of being ‘in’ the ball, those are great characteristics to have. He’ll keep getting better, and he’ll have ability to certainly help us.”