Dec. 18, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Marshall’s football program expects to start its next growth spurt today.
The midyear signing period for junior college players opens, and the Thundering Herd will be watching the football office fax machine for the first signees for 2013.
“Hopefully, we’ll get at least two,” JaJuan Seider, Marshall’s recruiting coordinator and running backs coach, said. “If we get more than that (during the early period), it will surprise us, too.
“We should fill one of our needs at safety, and hopefully we’ll get a defensive end out there to help us.” Seider called that player “a pass rusher, somebody who can come in a little more mature who can get to the quarterback.
“We might expect more (signees) than that, but things happen; kids go other places.”
The players cannot be named on a university-based website, according to NCAA rules, until they sign National letters of Intent or enroll in school. Any players that sign in the midyear period (through mid-January) are expected to enroll at MU next month.
Coach Doc Holliday’s program has 11 verbal commitments to date, according to recruiting service websites. Holliday will have an offseason press conference at Edwards Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, and if the NLIs are in by then, he will discuss the signees.
“We’ve been relentless; we’re still pursuing,” said Seider, who interrupted an interview to take a phone call and returned, smiling, to say, “Recruiting never stops.”
Seider said Marshall expects to have a 2013 signing class total of “a range 21 or 22, maybe one more, depending on how things fall.”
That number includes “at least five” players, Seider, said, who were already enrolled this semester as academic non-qualifiers, and will count toward the 2013 class.
Getting one of the available scholarships, too, is rising sophomore Tyler Williams
, who was the nation’s top freshman punter (45.2 yards per kick) this season and set the Marshall school record for single-season punting average.
“Tyler really deserves it,” Seider said. “He did a really great job for us, especially for a freshman.”
Seider said record-setting performances by young players like Williams, quarterback Rakeem Cato, slot receiver Tommy Shuler and linebacker D.J. Hunter are helping drive Herd success with prospects.
“They see guys like that come here and have success early on and they figure they can do the same thing, have an impact,” Seider said. “Rakeem Cato is a big name down in south Florida, bigger in Miami than (Louisville QB) Teddy Bridgewater, bigger than (West Virginia’s) Geno Smith.
“He’s the Dade County (high school) career passing leader, and he comes here, with Shuler, and they put up the kind of numbers they put up. They brought what they were doing down there here to Marshall. That’s how we get an (2012 signee and cornerback) A. J. Leggett.
“We get a lot of credit, us coaches, but our kids are our best recruiters, because they’re showing other kids what they can do.”
Seider said that when the signing class is finished, he expects the Herd will be able to fill its needs.
“We’ve got to get some guys who can play in the back end, safeties,” Seider said, as the Herd loses both safety starters in Boston College graduate transfers Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha. “That’s the No. 1 priority.
“Maybe another linebacker or two, depending on how stuff falls ... We haven’t got much left (beyond commitments and those who sat out and count this year), because the class is about full.
“We need to try and get older at offensive tackle, because we’re going to lose three guys there next year (Garrett Scott, Jordan Jeffries, Gage Niemeyer), so if we can get one in, then we can continue to let the young kids grow up.
“I think we did a good job filling inside with young kids early; we’ve got some commitment kids we are really high on, think we did a really good job of addressing needs on the offensive line – real blue-collar guys who want to work, tough kids.
“We’ve got some receivers who we really like. Everyone we have committed right now, we really, really like. We had a need there. We knew we had to sign at least three wide receivers because we lost three seniors. We like to stay at 12 scholarship guys there, especially the way we play uptempo, you end up playing 100 plays a game, you’ve got to rotate those guys.
“Really, that’s about it.”
Meanwhile, Seider, Holliday and the staff look ahead, too. The recruiting coordinator said he’s already focused on “about 100” prospects for the Class of 2014, which he said “will be a larger class because we’ll be replacing the seniors from (this staff’s) first class (of 2010).
As for the 2013 class, Seider said there is one possibility for which the Herd can’t plan.
“This class is big about filling needs,” Seider said. “You never not take the best player available out there at the end, too. Never turn down a great one – that’s our mentality here.”