BOGACZYK: Herd’s One Puts Sophomore Hits Behind Him
The Word on the Herd-April 22, 2016
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Whether or not Tomell One believes in the sophomore jinx doesn’t matter anymore. But there is no question the Marshall defensive tackle endured it during the 2015 season.
One was ready to build on an impressive freshman season in 2014 as the Herd’s No. 4 interior lineman behind seniors Jarquez Samuel, Steve Dillon and Ricardo Williams. And in the Herd’s 41-31 win over Purdue to open last season, One was playing with a singular focus.
“Then, it happened,” One said recently following a Herd spring practice.
Hey, maybe it’s good that he’s a psychology major.
He had two tackles, including a 10-yard sack and a forced fumble on 20 snaps into the early fourth quarter against the Boilermakers. That followed a 2014 performance when he saw 165 snaps in 11 of 14 games as one of only eight true freshmen to play for a nationally ranked Conference USA title team, posting 15 tackles, including a sack.
“I was having a big game against Purdue, and then it led to my sophomore slump,” said the 6-foot-4, 290-pound One, who also had recruiting offers from Mississippi State and Louisville. “It was a hyperextended left elbow, in the fourth quarter. I was attacking their guard. I was really lively in there and then that situation happened and it all changed.”
One said he learned about patience last season, because the injury bug wasn’t through with him. He was just about rounding into shape for a return at nose tackle when he was hurt again.
“Tomell was really good as a freshman,” Marshall defensive tackles coach J.C. Price said. “He took a step back last year, a sophomore slump, whatever you want to call it. He played really well in the Purdue game, then it seemed like if he didn’t have bad luck, he didn’t have any.
“After playing really well in the opener as the fourth guy, he ended up hyperextending an elbow and he really was never healthy again. Just as his elbow was healed, he suffered a high (left) ankle sprain (in a win at Charlotte). So, it was one thing after another he was battling. And that happens in there.”
Now, with those three seniors gone, One is joined inside by redshirt sophomores Nyquan Harris – who stepped into the No. 4 role when One was slowed – and Jason Smith as the “insiders” from whom Price is expecting big things.
“The high ankle sprain (at Charlotte), the backside tackle clipped me and the play wasn’t even going that way … a crazy situation,” said One, who hails from Palm Bay on Florida’s Space Coast. “As soon as I got my elbow situated with a brace and got used to it, the ankle happens and it was just a really upsetting situation.
“It was really upsetting to me because by that first game, Purdue, I knew – as soon as my first play started – how my season was going to feel like. My freshman year, I was just going. My second year, I was finally honing in, putting everything together …
“I knew what I was doing. The game was slowing down for me, like they say. And so, when those situations happened, they just blew my mind. I kind of wondered what was next. I got a sack against Purdue and then I wanted another one. Then it’s the elbow that goes. It just all changed from there.
“But even then, I was still there for my team.”
One was limited to 81 snaps in five games and made only two more tackles for the season after his two in the victory over Purdue. Looking ahead to the 2016 season, Coach Doc Holliday and Price need One to be there – on the field – for his team.
“It happens,” said Price, who was an Associated Press All-America third team pick in 1995 at a nose guard at Virginia Tech. “We try to tell our guys, every year you look at the starting 22, and rest assured we’re going to play the season without somebody you figured for a lot of reps.
“It’s happened every year I’ve been in football. Tomell battled a multitude of injuries that kind of hampered him, but you saw the potential in the Purdue game. He played really well. If he stays healthy, we hope he can really trend up.”
One, who will turn age 21 four days before the Herd’s Sept. 10 opener against Morgan State, is counting on his junior season being what’s expected, as Marshall moves from a nose and 3-technique set to left and right tackles.
“I feel like we have pressure on us simply from the fact that we haven’t gotten enough reps to show everybody what we’re capable of – so everybody is not on our side completely, or feels like we can do what we think we can do, as far as what I see,” One said. “How we work, I think that there’s no dropoff.
“I definitely feel we have the potential to be better. Learning from everyone like Jock (Samuel) and Steve, those cats showed us how lively we should be, how much effort we should put into everything. As far as we see, everything they showed us was effort, effort, effort, and we continue that.
“You have to realize that to be in the position that we’re in, it’s always physically demanding. You can’t take any plays off because if you do take a play off, you’ve just lost. You’re beaten.
“For us to continue to show effort, strain to the ball, that’s what we need. Since spring started, we’ve been running to the ball constantly. We’re beating linebackers running to the ball. I love that. I want to continue that.”