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Chuck Landon: Say hello to Young Thundering Herd, Part 2

Aug. 24, 2011 @ 11:25 PM

Seniors rule!

At least, that's the premise in most collegiate football programs.

Marshall isn't most programs, however.

That's why for the second consecutive season the Herd is going to be a freshman driven team.

Think Marshall played a lot of newcomers in 2010? Wait 'til this season.

After utilizing 12 true freshmen last season in head coach Doc Holliday's maiden voyage, the Herd is likely to not redshirt as many as 17 frosh in 2011.

That's right, 17.

The list who competed as true freshmen last season included running back Tron Martinez; quarterback Eddie Sullivan; tight end Gator Hoskins; wide receiver Jermaine Kelson; linebacker T.J. Ross; defensive back Shawn Dunston; cornerback Darryl Roberts; defensive end Jeremiah Taylor and Trevor Black, offensive guard Garrett Scott, wide receiver Demetrius Evans and defensive tackle Brandon Sparrow.

That total tied Marshall for ninth in the nation. Air Force ranked No. 1 with 19 frosh.

Well, better check your radar, fly boys, because there's a bogey named Marshall on your tail in 2011.

Here is the list of true freshmen expected to play immediately.

First, offense:

Rakeem Cato: Don't be surprised if this 19-year-old is the starting quarterback when Marshall opens the season at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 at WVU. He has been the best quarterback in preseason camp from day one.

Eric Frohnapfel: He could be the starting tight end in Morgantown, which certainly would be fun for the former WVU commitment.

Tommy Shuler: Cato's best friend will be in the wideout rotation in the slot.

Craig Wilkins: This wideout was a steal. Look for him to become an impact player as the season goes along.

Remi Watson: With his size and quick feet, he projects as the No. 3 running back on the depth chart.

Sebastian Johansson: He's playing right guard on the second-team offensive line. Although he still could be redshirted, he will travel since he's on the two-deep.

As for defense, it's quicker to list who will be redshirted. Right, Chris Rippon?

"The way it looks," said MU's defensive coordinator, "I'm probably only going to redshirt one guy."

Talk about the future being now.

True freshmen expected to play include strong safety D.J. Hunter; middle linebacker Jermaine Holmes; safety Evan McKelvey; linebackers Deon Meadows, Cortez Carter and Armonze Daniel; cornerbacks Keith Baxter and Corie Wilson; linemen Jarquez Samuel and Damien Moody; and safety Raheem Waiters.

Add these 17 to last year's 12 and that means Marshall might play a total of 29 true freshmen in back-in-back seasons.

Sound like a lot?

It is.

But there's a reason for it.

"We haven't been good here for a while," said Rippon matter-of-factly. "That's why we played 12 last season and will play even more this year."

Great point.

Doc, Rip and Co., will get no argument here. The key, however, is for this freshman makeover to stop after two years. And Holliday is keenly aware of that.

"Hopefully, this is the last year for that because we're getting caught up," he said. "But some of these guys have got to play."

Hmmm. Considering the roster includes a whopping 46 true freshmen, redshirt freshmen and true sophomores, perhaps, it's time to dust off an old nickname.

Call 'em the Young Thundering Herd, Part II.

Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827, or email him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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