Herd coaches do lots with little
HUNTINGTON -- As the football recruiting stretch moved into its final days there could be lots of sweat seen on the brow of Marshall University head coach Doc Holliday.
It wasn't just because he was wondering how National Signing Day was going to pan out.
It was because he -- and his fellow staffers -- were literally on the run the entire allotted time to make sure prospects stayed on course to join the Marshall program.
Marshall went into the home stretch of the recruiting cycle short-staffed as assistant coach defections started to take their toll.
Holliday said he was a little bit nervous at one point because the Thundering Herd was down four coaches -- all of which had left in a week's time -- and a defensive coordinator had still not been officially named.
That essentially left the Herd with almost half a staff trying to solidify an entire recruiting class while trying to fend off high-majors who were starting to come after their prospects.
Holliday said situations such as this year are exactly why he's continued to be so involved in the recruiting process since he became a head coach.
"Again, it's all about relationships," he said at a Wednesday signing day press conference. "That's why I think it's so important that the head coach is involved in every kid and not just two weeks prior to signing day. You better have that prior relationship with that kid from day one because if that happens, you better be in position to go in there and get that done."
The Herd staff overcame its lack of numbers with an overabundance of hustle -- coordinating with each other to ensure that each target received the best possible welcome to the Herd family.
Holliday praised recruiting coordinator JaJuan Seider for the work put in to assemble what was rated as the best non-BCS recruiting class in the nation by Rivals.com and included five 4-star recruits as labeled by ESPN.
As Holliday noted, the process went all the way to the top with Marshall president Stephen Kopp and athletic director Mike Hamrick assisting in the team effort.
"There's a whole lot that goes into a class that starts way back -- well over a year ago -- and finishes up (Wednesday)," Holliday said. "Without Dr. Kopp and Mike Hamrick and our football staff, Mark Gale (assistant athletic director-football operations) and just all the support staff -- GAs (graduate assistants), too -- it would be impossible to accomplish what was accomplished."
One of the most compelling stories of the recruiting process centered around Marshall safeties coach Todd Hartley.
Hartley, who graduated from the University of Georgia in 2008, had his hands buried deep in his home state getting to work picking out some of the best prospects.
Many of Hartley's noted prospects were defensive players -- names such as linebacker Neville Hewitt and safety Taj Letman -- but it was the offensive recruit he solidified that made for the best story.
Hartley had stayed hard at work on Washington County (Ga.) offensive lineman Michael Selby, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound bruiser who anchored a line that finished with more than 5,000 yards of offense (3,000 rushing, 2,000 passing) in 2012.
Selby committed to the Herd in June 2012, but three days before signing day, Georgia Tech came in with an offer to the three-star prospect.
Despite the chance to play in his home state, Selby remained committed to the Herd.
"That was all because the relationship Hartley had with that family," Holliday said. "He had his arms wrapped around everybody in that family that helped make that decision and we were able to hang on."
That's still not the most interesting part of the story, however.
Not only was the recruiting process winding down for Hartley, but so were the days before Hartley's wife Jessica was due to have their first daughter.
Fittingly, Tenley Katherine Hartley was born at 5:55 p.m., Tuesday. She weighed in at 6 pounds and 5 ounces.
The Hartley family, which includes Todd, Jessica, son Tucker and now baby Tenley, is doing quite well and enjoying a memorable week.
And because of the hard work put in and the sense of family brought to the recruiting game, the Herd football program is also enjoying a banner week with 29 additions to its family.
Marshall football recruits