So far in 2013, sophomores having a start include receiver Davonte Allen, guard Sebastian Johansson, defensive tackle Steve Dillon, linebacker Evan McKelvey and Taj Letman have all started at least one game (and all but Dillon and McKelvey two), while redshirt freshmen Corey Tindal has been at nickel and A.J. Leggett at safety in all games.
Allen has two catches for 31 yards, Johansson has graded out in two games at 80 percent, with 1.5 knockdowns.
Leggett has an interceptions, has five total tackles and two passes broken up while Tindal is third on the team with nine solo tackles, and a team best seven solo, has recovered a fumble, hurried a quarterback and broken up a pass. In fact, Tindal has played so well in the early part of the season, he was selected by Holliday as a team captain for the Ohio game.
"I was surprised, and it felt good, man," Tindal said. "You know all the hard work's just paying off. It's a wonderful feeling, so many emotions go through me when (Coach) said that.”
Holliday has no qualms about making a redshirt freshman a game captain. "I've said all along, you don't have to be a senior to lead," Holliday said. "Maybe one of the best leaders I've ever been associated with was Phillip Rivers at N.C. State, as a freshman.
“Corey Tindal's been no different from the time he stepped out there, he's been a tremendous leader. It helps when you're a tremendous player; those things go hand in hand.”
Also on defense, Dillon has six tackles, Letman four (plus a pass broken up) and McKelvey has four tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss.
But many, many more young players are also providing impact for this Marshall team.
True freshman Amoreto Curraj posted 12 touchbacks in just two games, doubling the Herd’s total in all of 2012.
Against Gardner-Webb, the leading tacklers were redshirt defensive linemen Gary Thompson and Josh Brown with six tackles each. They combined for 1.5 tackles for loss and sacks, and Thompson also had a fumble recovery and a hurry.
Tindal was third in that game with five tackles, and tied for a game best four solos, while Dillon had three tackles as did redshirt freshman linebacker Kent Turene. Redshirt freshman Andre Scott had 2 tackles against the Bulldogs, as did Letman and redshirt freshman Joe Massaquoi, and he had the longest loss with a 16-yard tackle for loss.
Long snapper Matt Cincotta is a sophomore, as is Blake Frohnapfel, and the quarterback has hit 8-of-10 so far in relief of Rakeem Cato, with one touchdown and one interception on 89 yards of passing, and is third in C-USA in passing efficiency.
Other young players who have already played include sophomores back Steward Butler (26/258, 9.9 YPR, 3 TD), back Remi Watson (7/24, 3.4) back Kevin Grooms (4/51, 12.8), back Kevin Rodriguez (2/4), back/returner DeAndre Reaves (5/3 rush, 3/33 receiving and 1/13 punt return), end Armonze Daniel (1 tackle), safety Corie Wilson (2 tackles), punter Tyler Williams (7/320, 45.7 YPP, 1 inside 20, 2 50+, 1 touchback), tight end Devon Johnson (1/10), tackle Clint Van Horn (played 2 games), tight end Joe Woodrum(1/26) and defensive tackle Jarquez Samuel (1 tackle, 0.5 tackle for loss and a hurry), and Cam Dees was to return this week at back-up center.
“I was happy to see them get in, knowing that they work just as hard as us starters,” junior receiver Tommy Shuler said of the young players who got in, some against Miami-Ohio and of the 40 or so who got to play against Gardner-Webb. “I was glad to see them catch balls and run around and get a feel for the game.”
Freshmen (true and redshirt) to contribute include receiver Justin Hunt (1/8), defensive back Andre Scott (2 tackles), safety Tiquan Lang (2 tackles), corner Michael Johnson (1 tackle), receiver Chris Alston and center Michael Shelby (played both games), while linebacker Stefan Houston hoped to return at Ohio.