BOGACZYK: Herd's Selby Fitting in Just Right at Guard
The Word on the Herd-Oct. 15, 2014
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – When Michael Selby prepared to join Marshall’s football program prior to last season, the blond offensive lineman didn’t set any personal goals in how fast and how much he’d get onto the field.
To say he was a quick study, however, might be an understatement. He was one of only seven Herd true freshmen to play in the 2013 season – and the 6-foor-2, 288-pound Georgian did so rotating among backup roles at center and the two guard spots.
"He’s a true freshman, and he’s not playing like one," veteran Marshall center Chris Jasperse said late last season of Selby.
Now, Selby is Jasperse’s starting sidekick. Selby was presented an opportunity in Marshall’s Military Bowl victory over Maryland last December when Coach Doc Holliday and line coach Alex Mirabal wanted to play more power football against the Terps. Selby and then-junior Blake "Cheese" Brooks came into the game, did the job, and the Herd went on to win.
"I think, definitely, that meant a lot," Selby said earlier this week. "As far as the confidence level, we went in there and played an ACC team and did fine, graded out well. We didn’t miss a beat when we went in.
"It was still ‘five men; one line’ … the mentality we have as an offensive line. From a confidence point, it really did help me."
As the Nos. 24/25-ranked Herd (6-0, 2-0) goes to Miami to face FIU (3-4, 2-1) in a Conference USA game on Saturday night, Selby has become a fixture on that offensive front. He has played every first-unit snap at right guard, the same 445 logged by Jasperse – who himself will surpass 3,500 career snaps sometime during the first half at FIU Stadium.
Selby doesn’t diminish the next-door neighbor osmosis factor one bit.
"It’s a big advantage playing next to (Jasperse) because you’ve got me, and I’m a sophomore, and Chris has played all those snaps, a senior," Selby said. "And I’m just watching everything he does, and how he carries himself on and off the field.
"He sets a good example for young guys like me and he’s helped me a lot out there. He’s calm, collected, so I stay calm. We never lose our composure, so that’s good."
The Herd line has had a few bumps in the road this season, with starting left tackle Sebastian "Swede" Johansson (ankle) and left guard Brooks (knee) being sidelined. Redshirt senior Trevor Mendelson has stepped in and become the left tackle starter, with Johansson moving to Brooks’ old starting spot.
Jasperse, Selby and right tackle Clint Van Horn have been on the field for all but about 40-45 snaps in 2014.
"If someone goes down, someone steps up and we don’t miss a beat," Selby said when asked if the shuffling has had an impact. "Give credit to Swede, Cheese, Trevor. They’ve stepped right in and we don’t miss a beat, just keep going.
"It’s not like we’re throwing in guys who never have been in the fire before. We practice situations like that in practice, if somebody rolls their ankle … we just move on."
Selby, who turned 20 last week, also has prospered because he was prepared when he arrived in Huntington to enroll in the summer of 2013.
As a 3.8 student and right guard at Washington County High School in Sandersville, Ga., Selby spent spring break of his senior year – after he signed with MU – attending several days of Herd spring practice to see what he’d be part of in future months and years.
"Just coming up here, watching practice, I think it helped me a whole lot," Selby said. "I just watched what the older guys did, how they worked, watched how practice was organized, how fast it was, stuff like that. I think it helped me a good bit, but give credit to Jasperse, and all those older guys who helped me out as a freshman. That really got me ready for now."
Selby’s debut came quickly when he played 13 snaps at center in last season’s opening win over Miami (Ohio). He finished the year with 222 snaps and graded 99 percent on assignments with 84 percent success – topped only by Jasperse on what was mostly a veteran two-deep unit.
Selby’s success and presence also became more crucial this offseason when Cam Dees, who sat out last season, had to give up football because of recurring issues with knee stability. That robbed Holliday and Mirabal of another returnee with experience.
"I really didn’t expect to play as much as I did last year," Selby said. "I was just coming in, trying to get respect and help the team. But I got to play a little bit and play a little bit in the bowl game (26 snaps) and it definitely helped me for this year, getting that experience."
Selby gives plenty of credit to Mirabal, and also said some credit for his rapid depth chart rise needs to go to his high school coach, Joel Ingram, who played center collegiately at Jacksonville State.
"Honestly, where I’m from, Friday nights, they shut down the city for high school football," Selby said of Sandersville (pop. 5,837), which is southeast of Atlanta, about a two-hour drive away. "It’s a small a town – probably five or six (traffic lights) on the main street.
"My head coach also was our offensive line coach, and he helped me a lot. I also had Seth Watts, who played at Georgia (2004-06) and also played at my high school. He helped me out a lot, mentored me, but definitely my high school coach taught me a lot of the basic fundamentals and techniques I’d need to go on to the next level.
"Probably finishing my blocks in the main one, working my hands and feet … He always was a big finishing guy. If you play offensive line, you’ve got to finish, put people on their butts and go hard every play."