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Intrigue surrounds MU's Signing Day

MU football
Jan. 31, 2012 @ 11:35 PM

HUNTINGTON -- On Jan. 18, reports were rapid, Facebook profile pictures were changing and Herd Nation was smiling.

A.J. Leggett, a type of recruiting grand prize from the football-rich parts of south Florida, had verbally committed to Marshall University. This was a four-star cornerback who had schools such as Florida State and the University of Miami after him.

"Marshall got somebody that some people didn't think they would be able to get," Leggett's high school coach, Lamont Green, told The Herald-Dispatch that evening. "It's a great accomplishment."

Leggett's Facebook page was soon decked out with a Thundering Herd logo.

But, again, that was Jan. 18, two weeks prior to when everything becomes official.

Wednesday is National Signing Day, a 24-hour event in the amateur football world full of buzz, pens, letters and anxious fax machines.

For Marshall, it offers a chance to celebrate. A chance to feel disappointed, too.

Back on Jan. 18, Green was certain Leggett's MU verbal would turn into a signed document come Feb. 1.

But a visit to Tennessee later and the Herd might have to sweat out Leggett's national letter of intent coming through its Shewey Building fax machine.

Does the Miami, Fla., defensive back stay with the Marshall kelly green or dress himself in Tennessee orange?

And that's one storyline heading into Wednesday, which will be capped off with a 4:30 p.m., Doc Holliday press conference in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center.

Currently, the Herd has 17 verbal commitments. With a blue-chipper, Leggett, leading the way, the class is due for a No. 2 ranking in Conference USA behind Southern Miss, according to Rivals.com.

But could it improve?

MU will also hold out for Jeremi Powell, a four-star 6-foot-2, 200-pound inside linebacker from Largo, Fla.

A University of Florida verbal commit, Powell took his official visit to Marshall last weekend. According to a report on GatorSports.com, Powell "took this trip in case he doesn't get into UF because of grade issues and needs a back-up school to go to."

If Powell sticks with the Gators, this linebacker class will still pack a punch courtesy of Kent Turene, a 6-3, 230-pound former Georgia recruit who is already enrolled at Marshall.

With the exception of long snapper Matt Cincotta, there are no specific specialists in this class.

But that could change Wednesday, too.

The Herd has offered a preferred walk-on position to kicker Ricky Perez of the University School in Florida.

He was a high school teammate of Gunnar Holcombe, MU's lone quarterback in this class.

"He's going to decide on Wednesday," Holcombe said of Perez during a phone interview on Monday. "It's between Marshall, Western Michigan and Michigan State."

A breakdown of the current verbal commitments includes six linebackers, four offensive linemen, three defensive backs, two tight ends, a defensive end and a quarterback.

Gage Niemeyer, a 6-6, 305-pound JUCO offensive linemen, and Ken Smith, a 6-4, 285-pound JUCO defensive tackle, will also be in this class.

Academic non-qualifiers from last season will be listed, too. Those include Steward Butler, a 5-10, 170-pound running back, Kevin Grooms, 5-10, 165-pound running back, Steve Dillon, a 6-3, 245-pound defensive tackle and Shawn Samuels, a 6-1, 180-pound defensive back.

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