HUNTINGTON - Doc Holliday spent a good ten minutes with the media after practice one on Monday afternoon.
The Herd will go split squad full two hour practices, with fifty or so players in the morning group and the rest in the afternoon groups for the first four days (two practices each day, but players only go one practice per day — two in no pads, two in shells (helmets and shoulder pads) before putting full gear on for one practice Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Here is Holliday in his own words.
Opening statement: “Everybody looks good in shorts, but the one thing I like is our conditioning. Some of the young players showed up and showed we had recruited the right young guys, but until we put the pads on we won’t know what we got.”
How about the new players?
“We have had these guys for two solid months, since June. They have trained with us and are in great shape.
“It used to be, you would get the freshmen in August and they would be so out of shape they would not be able to help you.
“The A.J. Leggetts, the Stewart Butlers, they were able to come in and work with us, thanks to Dr. Kopp for providing the money for summer school so we can bring them in early and get them in shape.”
“All these new guys, guys like (Jarquez) Samuels (who sat last year as a prop) we have been waiting a year to see we finally get to see, and the guys who will come out this afternoon.”
How about the summer conditioning?
“There are very few teams who do what we do, split the teams into groups but go the same amount of periods. We do that to get the number of reps we get, and we will do it this afternoon. You can tell, our numbers aren’t very big out here, but we go 22, 24 periods and our kids handle that.
“It’s not an issue, and that means they are in great shape.”
Having a young team with only eight seniors?
“I got to talk to David Baliff at Rice, and we have to honor to be the second-youngest teams in America. Indiana has seven seniors, and we have eight and Rice has eight. To me, that’s a good thing because I like our younger players.
“We played a lot of these kids a year ago. We played a lot of young guys and they are very talented. I would rather have talented young guys than experienced guys who can’t play.
Quick Hits on roster changes or players not here?
“Gone (from spring roster) are (OL) Josue Joseph and (LB) T.J. Ross, they are gone. Yes, (TE) Rakim Reed is gone, I forget about players once they leave.”
Also missing are LB Jake Brunoni, WR Bryce Williams, WR Matt Preston and S Marcin Wrobel.
Players who did not report among Class of 2012:
“Chris Hall and Deyonte Henderson.”
Players who will be here when school starts (and probably be props, which Holliday didn’t say):
“Gary Thompson, Corey Tendal and Kent Turin.”
Clearing House issues you expect and where are academics?
“I don’t know of any. (Cornerback A.J.) Leggett here because he is a darn good player and likes Marshall. I think people assume he is here for academics and it kind of p****s me off. Our academics are in good shape, we have had a great summer, and there are no issues.”
Behind the statement: Leggett was mentioned by senior linebacker Devin Arrington in two stories today, and the freshman did not take long to stake his claim.
Leggett, a four-star recruit by most services, picked a pass by fellow frosh quarterback Gunnar Holcombe that rocketed off the shoulder pads of senior running back Martin Ward and returned it for what would have been a sure touchdown that was whistle-blown to a stop short of the end zone.
Asked about the possible Penn State players joining the Herd:
“I can’t talk about recruitable athletes.”
Behind the statement: The ThunderingHerdBlog.blogspot.com reported today former Penn State slot receiver and return specialist Devon Smith, a senior, and junior cornerback Derrick Thomas may be transferring to Marshall.
According to the website, the two players were at Marshall on Sunday, although both are back at State College, Pa. today, according to sources.
Smith left the team in June when he was charged in a search of his apartment with possession of Marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Thomas left the team as well in June.
All Penn State’s current players have been cleared to transfer and immediately play after NCAA probation came down on the schools two weeks ago in relation to an investigation around the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case involving the former PSU assistant coach.
I HERD That:
The morning group included on offense/Quarterbacks — 15-Blake Frohnapfel and 16-Gunnar Holcombe; Running back — 2-Tron Martinez, 20-Stewart Butler, 29-Martin Ward and 35-Remi Watson; Receivers — 4-Demetrius Evans, 17-Tommy Shuler, 32-DeAndre Reaves, 80-Chris Alston, 84-Dameon Garrett and 86-Kameron Thomas; Tight ends — 21-C.J. Crawford, 83 Eric Frohnapfel and #85 (not identified as of end of practice); Offensive line — 50-DaVonte Edwards, 56-Grady Kerr, 62-James Allen, 68-Anthony Spano, 69-Trevor Mendelson, 71-Sebastian Johansson, 74-Alex Schooler, 76-Garrett Scott, 77-Jordan Jeffries and 78-Clint VanHorn.
On defense and special teams/ Defensive line — 45-Matt Pickett, 52-Malcomb Strong, 53-Channing Smith, 57-Eric Ansley, 90-Blake Brooks, 93-Steve Dillion and 98-Tom Collins; Linebacker — 16-Lawrence Johnson, 27-Billy Mitchell, 51-Deon Meadows and 88-Matt Cincotta; Safeties — 22-D.J. Hunter, 34-Zach Dunston, 35-Shawn Samuels and 44-Derek Mitchell; Corners — 1-A.J. Leggett, 23-Lorenzo Steele, 30-Isaiah Haskins and 38-Ardy Holmes; Long-snapper — 88-Matt Cincotta; Kicker — 23-Justin Haig; Punter — 38-Tyler Williams.
Jermaine Kelson might set a modern Marshall record for number changes. Wearing #5 this season, Kelson wore #28 as a freshman and #18 as a sophomore.
Early coaching them up notes: Nearly every pass true frosh Gunner Holcombe threw, there was quarterbacks coach and legendary Marshall QB Tony Petersen with something Holcombe didn’t do, could do better or what were you thinking, at least by Petersen’s body language with the youngster.
Blake Frohnapfel, just a redshirt freshman, remembered well how lost he felt last year as a true freshman and was doing all he could do to help Holcombe get up to speed.
“He doesn’t really know what he’s doing, along with new walk-on freshman Tanner Owens (from Amelia High School, in Batavia, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati). Rakeem (Cato) and I tried to sit them down last night and go through the playbook with both of them.
“I know how that was last year, when I didn’t know anything, so we are just trying to make it easier on them.”
Frohnapfel also said his arm feels great and he was unlimited on throws, although Petersen still was making throws in individual drills, alternating with Frohnapfel and Holcombe.
Stewart Butler showed the flashes of speed that led the Thundering Herd to recruit the running back, hitting the corner very fast on the speed toss but also showing good speed in traffic.
Butler finished his career third in Florida State history, breaking many records at Lakeland H.S. held by University of Florida running back Chris Rainey. In his senior year alone, he rushed for 2,934 yards (almost 10 yards per carry) and 30 touchdowns.
Frohnapfel hit his sophomore tight end twin, Eric, on a nice seam route during the passing drills as “Froh Bros” look to hook up more often … Jazz King had the best catch of the day, a nice one-foot toeing the sidelines reception … Freshman DeAndre Reaves also had a nice catch-and-run, but fellow frosh Chris Alston was doing “push-ups” for too many drops … Justin Haig was nearly perfect, kicking extra-points and field goals, and was helped by perfect snaps from Matt Cincotta to B. Frohnapfel holding, but punting is still very much “up in the air” with Trent Martin getting his turn this afternoon after Tyler Williams impressed with a few 50+ efforts, but also had some sub-30 yard shanks.