HUNTINGTON – Marshall University’s head football coach John “Doc” Holliday announced the Thundering Herd’s 2011 recruiting class on Wednesday afternoon on Feb. 2, the first day for football recruits to officially sign their national letters of intent.
The highly-ranked class features 29 student-athletes, and it includes four individuals who are already enrolled at Marshall for the spring semester.
“I am extremely proud of our football staff and support personnel for all of their hard work,” Holliday said.
“This is an outstanding recruiting class and it shows you the amount of respect that individuals around the country have for Marshall University’s football program.”
Marshall started the day at 7:14 a.m. with a fax from Josue Joseph, an offensive lineman from Orlando, Fla.
The final NLI came across at 12:20 p.m. from, Craig Wilkins, from Hialeah, Fla., a wide receiver, while Travon Van (running back), Conelius Jones (quarterback), Corie Wilson (defensive back) and Evan McKelvey (defensive back) were already on campus as part of the class.
Marshall's Doc Holliday, center, signs one of the top-ranked classes in Marshall football history with 29 new members of the Thundering Herd coming aboard on Wednesday. Herd Insider file photo by Greg Perry
Marshall’s recruiting class is being rated by several services as the No. 1 overall class in Conference USA and is arguably the most highly touted class in school history. The class features 12 players from the state of Florida and a balanced mix of offensive and defensive personnel that fill Marshall’s immediate needs.
Rivals.com had ranked Marshall’s class No. 1 in Conference USA early in the day on Wednesday, but by Thursday, Feb. 3 ranked Marshall’s recruiting class No. 3 in C-USA, as SMU is ranked No. 50 in the Rivals.com rankings and UCF is second in the C-USA rankings at Rivals.com.
Scout.com has SMU first in C-USA at No. 48, Marshall is second at No. 51 overall nationally and UCF is third at No. 66.
Marshall, the Mustangs and (at Rivals.com) the Knights are still the top teams from the non-automatic qualifying conferences, what with TCU (No. 26-Rivals/No. 28-Scout) and Utah (No. 37-Rivals/No. 46-Scout.com) headed to BCS-AQ leagues in the next year and 2012.
Non-AQ leagues include C-USA, the Mid-American Conference (Marshall was a member of the MAC from 1953-69, then 1997-2005), the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference and the Western Athletic Conference.
Automatic qualifying conferences include the ACC, the Big East, the Big 12, the Big Ten, the Pac-10 and the SEC.
TCU, a former member of C-USA and currently in the Mountain West, is moving to the Big East in 2012.
Utah, also currently a Mountain West member, will go to the Pac-10 next season, along with Colorado of the Big 12.
Rivals.com also ranks Marshall’s individual position groups as some of the finest in the country, especially at the linebacker position.
The Herd’s five-man linebacker class is the tops among the Marshall position players, as Rivals.com rates it No. 18 in the nation, tied with South Carolina of the SEC.
Marshall’s tight ends are rated at No. 38, tied with Tulsa, Rice, UCF and Rice of C-USA as well as Northwestern, North Texas, Mississippi State, Rutgers, N.C. State, Tennessee, Duke, Indiana, Cal and Ohio, where MU will travel this year for its long-time rivalry with the Bobcats.
At running back, Marshall’s class is ranked at No. 44, tied with Oregon State, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Wake Forest, Illinois and Tulane and Memphis of C-USA.
Marshall’s defensive end recruits are ranked No. 40 overall, tied with N.C. State, Northwestern, Arizona, Michigan State and Kansas.
The Herd’s receivers are ranked No. 32, tied with Notre Dame, UCLA, North Carolina and Rutgers. Marshall’s offensive linemen are ranked at No. 43 as a class.
For the multi-purpose players listed as “athletes” in recruiting, Marshall’s group picked up a No. 41 ranking, tied with Syracuse and Oregon State.
Scout.com only ranks the top 15 schools in position rankings, and no non-BCS school cracked that line-up at any position.
C-USA was the top-ranked non-BCS league by Scout.com, ranking eighth of 12, just behind the Independents Notre Dame, Navy and Army.
Rivals.com had the league broken down at SMU No. 1, followed by UCF, Marshall, Memphis, East Carolina, Houston, Southern Miss, Rice, Tulsa, UAB, Tulane and UTEP.
Scout.com broke down C-USA this way: SMU, Marshall, UCF, Memphis, Tulsa, Houston, Southern Miss, East Carolina, Rice, UAB, Tulane and UTEP.
The big difference for Scout.com was SMU’s having the only four-star recruit, according to its rankings.
UTEP led C-USA in recruiting junior college players with seven, while UH had six and UCF, Memphis, Southern Miss, East Carolina and UAB each had five.
Marshall signed two junior college players.
Earlier Wednesday, Holliday was mentioned by former University of Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer during ESPN’s coverage of National Signing Day.
“He (Holliday) is a guy who knows how to recruit and had coached for nearly 27 years. He recruited and coached a lot of the parents of the up and coming recruits. He was key in the Palm Beach, Dade and Broward areas of Florida.
“He had his hands in our national championships in 2006 and 2008,” Meyer said.