Marshall hosts Moss-Holliday camp
HUNTINGTON -- With West Virginia only giving high school teams three weeks to work in the summertime period, there isn't much time for rest once that period begins.
On Friday, 10 football teams got to mix business with pleasure at the Huntington YMCA Kennedy Center.
Not only did they improve their skills, but they got to interact with Marshall University's coaching staff and former NFL and Thundering Herd wide receiver Randy Moss at the Randy Moss/Doc Holliday 7-on-7 Team Camp.
"It's huge for these high school athletes to see an all-time great," Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said about Moss. "He's going to be a Hall of Famer and he played at Marshall and has done a tremendous job with Fox Sports, too.
"It's great that Randy comes back and gives his time to get around these kids because they look up to him."
Moss spent the early portion of the day greeting fans and giving out pointers along with Marshall's coaching staff. The two-day camp had nearly 600 players from 24 teams.
Huntington High emerged as the Friday champion. The Highlanders defeated Fairland, 25-15.
Marshall tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Todd Hartley presented Highlanders' head coach Billy Seals and his team with the team camp trophy.
"I know we do a lot of out of state recruiting in terms of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, but as far as in-state, this is the best time for us to evaluate in-state kids because they all come to our camp," Hartley said. "We had some very successful teams that go deep in the playoffs that are right here in a 45-minute radius that come to these camps.
"There are some good football players out here and we're evaluating these kids, too. It's good for them and it's good for us."
Seals, whose Highlanders finished as the Class AAA state runners-up in 2013, said his team is trying to do the little things right to turn a 9-7 loss against Martinsburg in the Super Six finals into a 2014 state title.
"For us to be a more complete team, we have to be able to throw the football better," Seals said. "We have some new guys that we are replacing at linebacker and in the secondary that needed some work too, so this is a good period for us to get guys work.
"It's a great thing they (Marshall) do and I know we'll be back every year. This is the first year we've been in it and the Marshall staff did a great job with it."
There was a definite Marshall feel to the camp and it went beyond Moss or Holliday or the rest of the Herd coaching staff.
Two of the high school head coaches involved -- Cabell Midland's Luke Salmons and Fairland's Rashad Jackson -- are former Marshall football players. Salmons' program put three teams on the field Friday while Jackson, a first-year head coach, was evaluating the talent he has to work with.
Whether at the high school level or even the college level with the Herd's camp, success is breeding bigger numbers in terms of those participating.
"Two years ago, we were 5-7 and coming off a 10-win season, we have 24 teams in two days," Hartley said. "We never had more than 10 teams in a day before and we had 14 (Thursday) and 10 (Friday). It just correlates to winning."
Hartley also praised the YMCA Kennedy Center for working with the Herd to accommodate the influx of teams at a late hour.
Marshall was planning on using its facility and the Rec Center turf, but the Kennedy Center's layout allowed for six games to go on simultaneously.
That proved especially beneficial Friday after a rain storm hit during the lunch period. With inclement weather moving into the area, the multitude of fields allowed Marshall's staff to get the entire tournament in prior to 5 p.m. when storms rolled back in.
"This is awesome," Hartley said. "We set it up two weeks ago here and when we brought Doc out here, he said 'Let's do it.' This place could accommodate 24 to 30 teams per day in the future and that's what we hope to get to.
"We could get a ton of kids here in Huntington, which is huge, and run this the right way. That's huge for us."