As you saw yesterday, Marshall rising sophomore running back Brandon Byrd has left the team. It was a little surprising, considering Byrd had done pretty well in his first season on the field. He scored twice, including a blocked punt returned for a touchdown against Old Dominion.
He had a pretty rough introduction to college football. He missed time during the preseason with a concussion after getting blasted by Cortez Carter during a drill. One thing his departure does is make Marshall’s running back corps both very old and very young at the same time with very little middleman.
The Herd returns a trio of seniors in 2015 — C-USA leading rusher Devon Johnson, Steward Butler and Remi Watson. Tony Pittman, a fellow rising sophomore, comes back, too. Otherwise, the running backs include Keion Davis, who sat out last season as an academic non-qualifier, incoming freshman Delvin Weems, and some walk-ons — rising redshirt freshman Jamon Cofield, rising redshirt sophomore David Gaydosz, who sat out last season after transferring from Coastal Carolina, and incoming freshman Ellis Cain.
Chances are those younger guys will spend a lot of time watching, but still getting ready for the free-for-all for the starting RB job when Johnson, Butler and Watson all depart.
News of preferred walk-ons to the Marshall football program have been trickling in since National Signing Day. There was Louisville Male RB and Kentucky all-state honorable mention Ellis Cain. Male, by the way, is the alma mater of Herd RB coach Chris Barclay. Then there was Deiondre Coleman, a corner and Cain’s teammate at Male. Coleman, by the way, is cousin of former Herd star and current Dallas Cowboy C.J. Spillman.
Now comes another interesting pickup, receiver Nick Mathews out of Patriot High in Nokesville. His situation looks like one set of numbers trumping another set. Mathews finished last season with a staggering 102 catches, a Virginia High School League record, for 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns.
That should be plenty to warrant at least a couple of FBS offers, but another set of stats — his 5-foot-10 height and 163-pound weight — might have kept those offers away. According to the Washington Post, he did get an offer from FCS St. Francis (Pa.), but he felt he could compete at the FBS level. So after a Marshall camp, DL coach and Virginia recruiter J.C. Price offered him a chance to walk on. The Post story said he’s chowing down on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and protein shakes to try and get to 175 by the time he touches down in Huntington.
Marshall has done pretty well in the past few years in ignoring measurables and bringing in players that have produced. Quarterback Rakeem Cato was the career passing leader in Dade County, but came to Marshall weighing 150 pounds. He left as Marshall’s career leader in nearly every major passing category. Tommy Shuler was listed at 5-7 and 188 pounds, but that didn’t stop him from becoming both Marshall and Conference USA’s career leader in receptions.
Sometimes a big bench press and a fast 40 time don’t predict success on the college level. Mathews will get his chance to follow in some pretty good footsteps.
When Marshall hosts Southern Mississippi in football on Oct. 10, there’s a good chance the Golden Eagles will look a little different. USM AD Bill McGillis told the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American that new uniforms are on the way. Below, McGillis discusses what he’d like in Southern Miss’ new look:
You can expect us to wear a lot of black with some gold accents. Simple, clean, traditional that represents Southern Miss.
These are the current uniform designs …
Southern Miss unis
To be honest, outside of the digital camo on the third jersey (you could ban that style from, well, everything, if you want my crotchety opinion), the uniforms aren’t all that bad. But, McGillis is the AD, and if he wants new duds, he can shell out the athletic department funds to get them. Some cash might be more wisely spent in coming up with a fix for a team that has won a grand total of four games in the past three seasons, but, hey, it ain’t my money.
First it was tight end coach/recruiting coordinator Todd Hartley who left Marshall for a job at the University of Georgia. Another member of the Herd football staff has joined him. Marshall confirmed that director of high school relations Aaron Hill has packed up for Athens, Ga., to take a position with the Bulldogs.
Doc Holliday had plenty of good things to say about Hill, who did a lot of work on the path to National Signing Day after Hartley’s departure. Among his contributions was moderating the Herd’s Signing Day webcast, which was a pretty entertaining program, which you can see here.
Marshall has filled the opening left by Hartley, bringing back former assistant Todd Goebbel. High school relations director might not be a visible job to the public, but it’s a crucial one.
Details around the Web were scarce, but a friend of his had posted on Head’s Facebook page a cell phone video of a Fox 5 Atlanta newscast reporting on his death. The station said it was a car accident. He had just turned 23 on Jan. 29.
Things got a bit weird Thursday night in Conference USA men’s basketball, when a team with a potential at-large NCAA bid went down and two teams with double-digit win totals fell to opponents with single-digit win totals.
Old Dominion — which, at 18 wins, has more victories than any one in C-USA besides conference leader Louisiana Tech — lost to UTSA after the Monarchs scored just one field goal in the game’s final 3:21. North Texas, who lost at Marshall last Saturday, beat UAB, which had shared the conference lead with Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky entering Thursday’s slate. Then Rice, which Marshall drubbed last week, upset Middle Tennessee in double overtime. The Owls had just beaten WKU the game before.
(And while this isn’t an upset, FIU beat Southern Miss when the Golden Eagles played just four men in the last 48 seconds of overtime. USM only dressed seven and three fouled out. The team currently is under investigation for alleged improprieties under former head coach Donnie Tyndall, who had high-tailed it to Tennessee.)
So what does this say about C-USA men’s basketball. Well, it probably says it can kiss any chance of an at-large bid good-bye. The ODU team that started 14-1, reached the top 25 for the first time in school history and beat Virginia Commonwealth would get that bid. The ODU team that lost to the Roadrunners and is sitting fifth in the conference right now will not. The other two contenders — WKU and UTEP — have blemishes, too. Western started the year 1-3 and loss to Rice last week. UTEP’s loss at Marshall may do as much damage as Southern Miss’ loss to Marshall two years ago.
Looks like C-USA will be a one-bid league once again.
If Wooten’s name sounds familiar, it should. He was a 2014 signee at wide receiver out of Cairo, Ga., but never made it to Huntington. Instead, he headed to Milford and moved to the secondary. Scout, Rivals and 247Sports all rated him two stars out of Cairo.
You’re seeing a trend with the wideouts Marshall is signing. The Herd is bringing them in big. Carns isn’t just big, but fast, too, with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash under his belt. As a senior at Woodland, he caught 47 passes for 978 yards and 14 touchdowns. That’s 20.8 yards per catch. That’s a lot. That’s a touchdown every 3.4 catches. That’s also a lot. He’s rated two stars by Rivals, 247Sports and Scout.
Jean’s high school pedigree is pretty impressive, since you can count Rakeem Cato and Tommy Shuler among its alumni. With Jean in the trenches, Central won its third straight state title and fourth in the last five years. Rivals, Scout and 247Sports all rate him two stars.
Another wideout signee, another trip to the big-and-tall section for the Herd. Before Gallmon played at Chickasaw, he played at Godby High School in Tallahassee, Fla. I can say from personal experience that the football in the Big Bend is pretty good. At Chickasaw, he caught 48 passes for 1,110 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s a two-star prospect according to both Rivals and Scout.