Saturday, 26 January 2013 15:34

Word on the HERD: Super Bowl connections a boost for Holliday’s Herd recruiting; includes current commitments and all-time MU list in Super Bowls, NFL or AAFC Championships

Written by  JACK BOGACZYK, HI Editor


HUNTINGTON  — Recruiting is never easy, but Marshall Coach Doc Holliday has 47 reasons why trying to sell his Thundering Herd football program could be enhanced in these crunch hours before National Signing Day on Feb. 6.
Or, make that XLVII reasons.
Marshall has four players on active rosters for next weekend’s Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.  
Wide receiver Randy Moss and safety C.J. Spillman playing for the San Francisco 49ers, and linebacker Albert McClellan and rookie safety Omar Brown with the Baltimore Ravens.
Among collegiate programs, only Miami — with five — has more in this Super Bowl. 
Marshall’s quartet on active rosters ties the Herd record of four from Super Bowl XLII five years ago, when the New York Giants and ex-MU running back Ahmad Bradshaw edged New England.
That Patriot team included Moss, punter Chris Hanson and wideout Troy Brown, who was on the game roster but made inactive for that game due to injury. 
Former Herd tight end Jason Rader wasn’t on the 53-man roster, but was part of the Pats’ practice squad.
“Anytime you get Marshall represented like we are in the Super Bowl, it helps a lot in recruiting,” Holliday said Friday as snow fell outside his Shewey Building office. 
“All of those kids, I’m sure, had a dream of playing in the Super Bowl, and now they are there.
“You go into a home or a school, as I have the last couple of weeks, and you talk about it. 
“Your dream is to play in the NFL? Well, guess what? It can happen at Marshall. 
“Other than just (Miami, with five), we’ve got more people playing in the Super Bowl than anyone.
“It shows kids you come to Marshall and not only get a good education, but you can realize your dream as far as the NFL is concerned, too.”
This is the ninth time in 12 years that Marshall has had at least one former player on an active roster in the Super Bowl, including six of the last seven (including the 2013 game). 
One of those exceptions was Super Bowl XLIV (2010), when 1960s Herd quarterback and assistant coach Larry Coyer was the Indianapolis defensive coordinator.
Former Herd and Houston quarterback Chad O’Shea was the Patriots receivers coach last year in New England’s second loss in the big game to the New York Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw since his rookie season in 2008.
Holliday and the Herd also are getting mileage this weekend — with four prospects scheduled to make recruiting visits — from MU senior wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who will play for the North squad in Saturday’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
No question, it’s a plus,” Holliday said, “and Aaron’s done well (in workouts) from what I understand. 
“I’ve been talking to him throughout the process and he’s helped himself.
“Anytime Marshall can get exposure with the Super Bowl or the Senior Bowl, it’s just another example of how kids can reach their dream through here.
“By going to the Senior Bowl, Dobson is doing the same thing (Philadelphia Eagles rookie defensive end) Vinny Curry did a year ago. 
“He helped himself tremendously in the Senior Bowl workouts, the exposure.
“It’s just one part of the process. The next step in the (NFL) Combine, how Aaron does there, doing interviews, answering questions, 40-(yard) times, all the things they do there. 
“There’s our Pro Day here (March 13). It’s a long, drawn-out process for the NFL to find out what it wants about you.”
Aaron Dobson is playing in the Jan. 26 Senior Bowl, and Doc Holliday is using this and four Herd players in next week's Super Bowl in his recruiting pitch. (courtesy of Senior Bowl)
Holliday returned from the recruiting road Thursday night and is headed back out all of next week. 
He’s also trying to fill three assistant coaching position and expects one official announcement early next week, but said the other two hires may have to wait until “around or right after Signing Day because I’ll be on the road.”
New strength coach Scott Sinclair, from UCF, reported to the Shewey Building on Friday, too.
Media reports were adding Anthony Midget, the former Georgia State defensive coordinator, was joining the MU defensive staff of new MU defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, Todd Hartley and J.C. Price.
Midget worked five years for Coach Bill Curry and the Panthers, moving up to DC last season, but was not retained when Curry retired and new Coach Trent Miles took the GSU reigns.
Steve Dunlap, the former WVU assistant and 2007 defensive coordinator at MU, is still being rumored as a the other possible hire on the defensive side of the ball by numerous media outlets.
Holliday, heading toward his fourth season as the Herd coach, is keyed up about the Herd’s recruiting to date after a 2012 season where Marshall boasted a record-setting offense that led the nation in passing, via the arm of rising junior quarterback Rakeem Cato.
Of the 16 reported commitments on recruited-based websites, five players already are enrolled in classes this semester.
Holliday said the Herd will have “21 initial counters” when all is said and done.
“I’m happy where it is, we just have to finish,” Holliday said of the recruiting effort. 
“We’re just one or two away from wrapping up this class. If we can hang onto what we’ve got (committed), get a couple breaks here or there with a couple of players here at the end, it will be a good class.”
Holliday said linebacker Stefan Houston, offensive lineman Tyler Combs, safety Taj Letman (signed in December), quarterback Kevin Anderson and wideouts Angelo Jean-Louis, Deontay McManus and Shawney Kersey (Penn State transfer) are enrolled this semester and most will be eligible to play this coming season.
“It’s a great advantage for all of those guys to be here this semester,” Holliday said. 
“They have the opportunity to get started on classes, go through winter conditioning, go through spring ball. It gives them a leg up on the rest of the guys coming in.”
Five players who sat out last season but “all good to go” for 2013, he said, are linebacker Kent Turene, cornerback Corey Tindal, defensive end Larry Jefferson, defensive tackle Josh Brown and DE/LB Gary Thompson.
Freshman All-America punter Tyler Williams, who set a Herd single-season record for yard-per-punt as a 2012 walk-on, also will count toward the signing class since he’s on scholarship now, Holliday said.
The Herd coach added that the need to balance classes and position needs is happening, too.
“We have numbers at each position, and we’ve met those numbers,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ll meet our goals.”
As for the Conference USA scheduling match-ups revealed earlier this week, Holliday said, “It is what it is. 
“I let Mike (Hamrick, Marshall’s Director of Athletics) worry about the schedule, and I worry about recruiting, getting the team prepared to go play.”
Marshall gets East Carolina, Southern Miss, UAB and UTSA at home, and goes to FIU, FAU, Middle Tennessee and defending league champion Tulsa.
Asked about making two trips to a south Florida region where Holliday and his staff are known for plucking prospects annually — see Cato, wideout Tommy Shuler, running back Kevin Grooms, corner Keith Baxter, etc. — he smiled about visiting new members FIU and FAU.
“Well, the kids will be excited about it (two trips to Miami area),” Holliday said. 
“I’m a coach. I’d rather have one home, one away.”
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This is Marshall’s current recruiting class, per, the Herd Nation’s website, and compiled by Jacob Messer of 
So far, Marshall leads all of Conference USA with three four-star recruits of 16 committed or signed, and Marshall’s averaged of 2.73 stars per player is also tops in C-USA:
Arnold Blackmon one of two signees already with Herd. (photo courtesy of
Signed Letter of Intent
Name — Pos — Ht/Wt — Stars
Arnold Blackmon — JC-DE — 6-2/235  (Rated #80 among jucos by,also recruited by Houston, Kansas, K-State, New Mexico and ODU as juco player; out of high school, recruited by Lamar, UTSA and UTEP)
Taj Letman — JC-DB — 6-3/195 — *** (Rated #87 among jucos by and #5 at safety, also recruited by Baylor, Charlotte, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, Nebraska, Purdue and South Alabama)
Taj Letman is also already in school at Marshall, and he and Blackmon will participate in spring football. (photo courtesy of
Committed/Not Yet Signed
Name — Pos — Ht/Wt — Stars
Kevin Anderson — QB — 6-2/204 — **
Jeremiah Benjamin — LB — 6-2/225 — ***
Cody Collins — OL — 6-2/280 — **
Neville Hewitt — JC-DB — 6-2/220 — ***
Stefan Houston — JC-LB — 6-3/200 — ****
Chris Huhn — OL — 6-6/290 — ***
Justin Hunt — WR — 6-1/182  **
Angelo Jean-Louis — ATH — 6-0/185 — ****
Josh Knight — WR — 6-1/180 — **
Deontay McManus — WR — 6-2/215 — **
Lakeith Murray — DB — 6-0/185 — **
Michael Selby — OL — 6-3/280 — **
D’Andre “Chocolate" Wilson — DB — 5-9/160 — *** (Ranked #72 in nation by, has Wilson as the 108th best player in nation)
Gerald Wright — OL — 6-2/321 — **
This just in: Shykeem Pitts, 5-foot-11, 175-pound receiver from Davenport, Fla. and Ridge Community School, and three-star player according to, committed to the Herd on Saturday evening, around 9 p.m.
Pitts was also offered by Tennessee, and drew interest from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Fla. State and Miami, and was recruited by Todd Hartley of the MU staff.
Angelo Jean-Louis will sign with Marshall on Feb. 6 out of Fork Union Military Academy, out of the Palm Beach area of Florida for high school football. (photo courtesy
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Former Marshall University players and coaches on Super Bowl, NFL, AFL or AAFC Championship Game rosters. Years listed are date game was played (list compiled by Herd Insider Publisher Woody Woodrum):
Omar Brown, just a year ago running down players from East Carolina for the Thundering Herd, is headed to the Super Bowl as a rookie with the Baltimore Ravens who meet the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday. Also there for Marshall is Albert McClellan of the Ravens, plus Randy Moss and C.J. Spillman for the 49ers. (HI photo by Greg Perry)
Super Bowl Games, 1966-2013
Super Bowl XLVII, Feb. 3, 2013
Baltimore Ravens – S Omar Brown and LB Albert McClellan
San Francisco 49ers – WR Randy Moss and S C.J. Spillman 
Randy Moss led the Herd to a 15-0 National Championship season in 1996, then to the Mid-American Conference title, the first Motor City Bowl (MU's first bowl in 50 years) and a 10-3 mark in 1997, but is looking for his first NFL title with the SFf 49ers in this week's Super Bowl, losing his only other appearance with the Patriots in 2008. (Herd Insider file photo by Greg Perry)
Super Bowl XLVI, Feb. 5, 2012
New York Giants 21 – RB Ahmad Bradshaw
New England Patriots 17 -- Assistant coach Chad O’Shea (Receivers coach; QB for two years at MU, two years at UH)
Super Bowl XLV, Feb. 6, 2011 
Green Bay Packers 31
Pittsburgh Steelers 25 – QB Byron Leftwich and OL/FB Doug Legursky
Super Bowl XLIV, Feb. 7, 2010
New Orleans Saints 31
Indianapolis Colts 17 –  assistant coach Larry Coyer (Colts’ defensive coordinator, former Marshall QB and DB)
Super Bowl XLIII, Feb. 1, 2009
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 – QB Byron Leftwich and OL Doug Legursky (Practice squad, did not dress, received ring)
Arizona Cardinals 23
Super Bowl XLII, Feb. 3, 2008
New York Giants 17 – RB Ahmad Bradshaw
New England Patriots 14 – WR Troy Brown (injured all season, did not dress), P Chris Hanson, WR Randy Moss and TE Jason Rader (practice squad, did not dress)
Ahmad Bradshaw has won two Super Bowls in two trips to the big game with the New York Giants, here running for the Thundering Herd against UTEP in 2006. (HI file photo by Greg Perry)
Super Bowl XLI, Feb. 4, 2007
Indianapolis Colts 29 – DE Johnathan Goddard (injured reserve all season, received ring)
Chicago Bears 17
Super Bowl XXXIX, Feb. 6, 2005
New England Patriots 24 – WR Troy Brown
Philadelphia Eagles 21 – TE/LS Mike Bartrum
Super Bowl XXXVIII, Feb. 1, 2004
Carolina Panthers 29
New England Patriots 32 – WR Troy Brown

Troy Brown won three Super Bowls in five trips to the Super Bowls with the New England Patriots 1993-2007 (first win against the St. Louis Rams in 2002), and is a member of the Pats' Hall of Fame. He also helped MU to win the National Championship in two trips with the Thundering Herd in the I-AA title games, being a 1991 finalist (losing to Coach Jim Tressel's Youngstown State Penguins, 25-17, in Statesboro, Ga.) and 1992 champs with MU best (at the time) 12-3 mark that season, beating YSU 31-28 at Marshall's stadium. (Herd Insider file photo)
Super Bowl XXXVI, Feb. 3, 2002
St. Louis Rams 17
New England Patriots 20 – WR Troy Brown and TE Jermaine Wiggins (two seasons at MU, two season at UGA)
Super Bowl XXXI, Jan. 26, 1997
New England Patriots 21 – WR Troy Brown (injured, did not dress for Super Bowl) and TE/LS Mike Bartrum (played for Green Bay previous season, 1995)
Green Bay Packers 35
Super Bowl XXIII, Jan. 22, 1989
San Francisco 49ers 20 - WR Mike Barber [drafted by 49ers (fourth round), spent 13 of 16 games on active roster (dressed eight games), traded to Phoenix Cardinals for last three games but awarded ring by 49ers. Played in Cincinnati Bengals, 1990-91, and two games with Tampa Bay Bucs, 1992.]
Cincinnati Bengals 17
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No Marshall player has ever played in or won as many championships as NFL Hall of Fame center Frank "Gunner" Gatski, who came to Marshall in 1939 and played 1940-41. Starting with the Cleveland Browns in 1946, Gatski advanced to ten straight championship games in the All-American Football Conference or the NFL with the Browns, winning seven, then won an eighth in an 11th championship in 1957, beating Cleveland with the Detroit Lions, a record 8 championships in 11 championship games over 12 seasons played not matched by any other NFL position player (non-kicker). Guard Ed Ulinski of Marshall was Gatski's teammate from 1946-49, and a Browns coach 1954-72, winning seven titles in nine trips to championships. (photo courtesy of Cleveland Browns)
NFL or AAFC Championship Games
National Football League Championship Games
NFL 1965 Championship
Green Bay Packers 23
Cleveland Browns 12 – Assistant coach Ed Ulinski
NFL 1964 Championship 
Cleveland Browns 27 – Assistant coach Ed Ulinski
Baltimore Colts 0
NFL 1957 Championship
Detroit Lions 59 – C Frank Gatski (Elected to NFL HOF 1985, in class with Joe Nameth-New York Jets QB, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozell, O.J. Simpson-Buffalo Bills RB and Roger Staubach-Dallas Cowboys QB)
Cleveland Browns 14 – Assistant coach Ed Ulinski
NFL 1955 Championship 
Cleveland Browns 38 – C Frank Gatski and assistant coach Ed Ulinski
Los Angeles Rams 14
NFL 1954 Championship
Cleveland Browns 56 – C Frank Gatski and assistant coach Ed Ulinski
Detroit Lions 10
NFL 1953 Championship
Detroit Lions 17
Cleveland Browns 16 – C Frank Gatski
NFL 1952 Championship
Detroit Lions 17
Cleveland Browns 7 – C Frank Gatski
NFL 1951 Championship
Los Angeles Rams 24
Cleveland Browns 17 – C Frank Gatski
NFL 1950 Championship
Cleveland Browns 30 – C Frank Gatski
Los Angeles Rams 28
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AAFC — All-American Football Conference, 1946-49 Championship Games (Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts moved to the NFL for 1950 season)
AAFC 1949 Championship
Cleveland Browns 21 – C/LB Frank Gatski and G/NG Ed Ulinski
San Francisco 49ers 0
AAFC 1948 Championship
Cleveland Browns 49 – C/LB Frank Gatski and G/NG Ed Ulinski (Browns perfect season, 14-0)
Buffalo Bills 7
AAFC 1947 Championship
Cleveland Browns 14 – C/LB Frank Gatski and G/NG Ed Ulinski
New York Yankees 3
AAFC 1946 Championship
Cleveland Browns 14 – C/LB Frank Gatski and G/NG Ed Ulinski
New York Yankees 9
Last modified on Saturday, 26 January 2013 22:53

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