Herd rides coaching carousel
HUNTINGTON -- As Marshall University football kicks off its spring practice schedule this week, the faces underneath the helmets will be quite familiar.
Returning are quarterback Rakeem Cato, the 2012 Conference USA Player of the Year; running back Kevin Grooms, the Conference USA Freshman of the Year; and All-CUSA first team wide receiver Tommy Shuler.
That's just to name a few of the returning weapons.
Marshall graduated just nine seniors from last season, but had a lot of turnover on the coaching staff. The spring will be an acclimation period to new assistant coaches.
In all, Marshall will have five new coaches on the sideline when spring ball begins Tuesday and could potentially have six if Sean Cronin is officially added to the staff Monday as anticipated.
That means the lone returning coaches to the Thundering Herd staff from when they walked off the field at East Carolina in November 2012 are head coach Doc Holliday, offensive coordinator Bill Legg, defensive line coach J.C. Price and safeties coach Todd Hartley.
There is no guarantee that the roles for returning coaches will not change in 2013. That means players will use the 15 spring practices to get familiar with their position coaches.
It's an interesting twist, considering that -- barring unknown defections from the program -- Marshall returns more than 4,600 yards of total offense (1,936 yards rushing, 2,691 yards receiving) and 401 of its 491 points scored from 2012.
According to Marshall sports information director Jason Corriher, Holliday is going to officially unveil duties for his 2013 staff following Tuesday's first practice, which is scheduled for 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The Herd will practice at the same times on Thursday and Friday.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Heater is the most notable addition after coming to Marshall from Temple where he was a candidate for the Frank Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant, in 2011.
The newest addition is running backs coach Thomas Brown, a former NFL player, who was announced on Thursday. He takes over for JaJuan Seider, who left for the same position at West Virginia.
Mike Furrey, the former Kentucky Christian University head coach and ex-NFL wide receiver, takes over the wide receivers coaching position vacated when Gerad Parker left for Purdue. Linebackers coach Adam Fuller comes to Marshall after spending the last four years as Chattanooga's defensive coordinator.
It is also anticipated that Holliday will officially announce the hiring of Sean Cronin in the next few days. Like Heater, Cronin was at Temple in 2011 and 2012 after having served as defensive line coach at Marshall in 2010.
Nothing official has been released on Cronin by Marshall.