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Chuck Landon: Recruiting trail leads to the rest of the story

Feb. 09, 2013 @ 12:14 AM

Pardon me for asking, but. ...

Does anybody know how old most of the football recruits in Marshall's Class of 2013 were the last time an SEC member didn't win the national championship?

The answer is: They were in the fifth grade.

The SEC has won seven consecutive titles from 2003-12. It all began with LSU, followed (in order) by Florida, LSU, Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Alabama and, again, Alabama.

Puts the SEC's supremacy in perspective, huh?

Was hiring assistant coach Anthony Midget away from Marshall Penn State's idea of retribution?

Some Nittany Lions fans certainly think so.

"Would be nice to take something from Marshall. ... strike back, if you will," tweeted one Penn State fan on Twitter.

I certainly can understand that sentiment.

After all, cornerback Derrick Thomas, slot receiver Devon Smith and X-receiver Shawney Kersey all utilized the "Sandusky Rule" to transfer from Penn State to Marshall without having to sit out a year.

And all three are expected to be starters for the Herd next season.

Seems to me Marshall still got the best end of the bargain. Besides, considering Midget got a $150,000 raise from the $75,000 he was being paid at Marshall, according to sources, he would have been foolish to turn down Penn State's offer.

How many of Marshall's top football recruits will be academic non-qualifiers?

It is too soon to answer that question. The majority of recruits who signed National Letters of Intent across America on Wednesday aren't academically qualified yet.

So, it's rather preposterous to assume that just because highly ranked safety Michael Johnson flipped his commitment from Florida State to Marshall, it's because he has academic issues.

Maybe, just maybe, it's because Herd recruiters out-worked the Seminoles.

Besides, this same thinking occurred last year when A.J. Leggett shocked the football recruiting world by signing with Marshall. Everyone took it for granted that since Leggett was rated as one of the top 10 cornerback prospects in the entire country, the reason he signed with Marshall was the Herd could take props.

Well, guess what happened the following August? There was Leggett, fully qualified and participating in preseason camp.

So, my advice is not to jump to academic non-qualifiers conclusions. Unless, that is, it appears to be clearly the case. And it does for as many as four members of Marshall's Class of '13.

Wide receiver Deontay McManus couldn't qualify in 2012 when he was the crown jewel of WVU's offensive recruits. So, he went to prep school at the Atlanta Sports Academy. When he enrolled at Marshall for the spring semester, school officials confirmed he was a non-qualifier.

That's also expected to be the case with Shykeem Pitts and Brandon Byrd. Pitts is a dynamic playmaker who caught the recruiting attention of several SEC schools. But most of them backed off. His only offers were Marshall and Tennessee, which is a tell-tale sign.

As for Byrd, he had no ranking from any of the various recruiting services and Marshall was his only offer. Enough said.

Then, there's running back Tony Pittman, who came out and admitted he was signing with Marshall despite offers from Miami (Fla.), Syracuse and Purdue just in case he didn't qualify academically.

I admire Pittman's candor.

Did new Marshall head strength and conditioning coach Scott Sinclair really tweet, "Let's go Heard football" the other day?

Yes, he did.

Sigh.

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

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