Chuck Landon: New Herd players blossom in practice
Spring time is for blooming.
Just look around.
Over here are plenty of daffodils. Across the way there are azaleas. And down on Marshall Memorial Boulevard at "The Joan," there are football players.
And, yes, several of them are indeed blooming during Marshall's spring practice.
Here's a blossom-by-blossom account:
Stefan Houston -- The 6-foot-3, 220-pound true freshman has stood out at the "Sam" (strong-side) linebacker spot since the very first spring practice. The only reason this kid isn't in an SEC camp right now is because that league can't take academic non-qualifiers and nobody but Marshall believed Houston would make his test score. He was a steal and will be an impact player.
Kevin Anderson -- The 6-2, 204-pound quarterback should be getting ready for his prom at Boca Raton (Fla.) High school. Instead, he's throwing passes after graduating a semester early and enrolling at Marshall. No one would guess he's a refugee from a high school prom, either. His arm strength and poise are uncommon for a kid that has only four collegiate practices under his belt. Now, if Anderson just would quit wearing that pastel-colored tux to practice. ...
Corey Tindal -- The redshirt freshman cornerback, 5-10, 175, is catching eyes with his high-energy habits, his ball-hawking ability on 7-on-7 passing drills and his quickness. The latter is evident in Tindal taking reps as a punt returner along with Tommy Shuler and Devon Smith.
Eric Ansley -- Talk about long arms. Marshall basketball coach Tom Herrion could use this 6-7, 285-pounder and his stunning wing-span at power forward. Instead, he's a prototypical left offensive tackle. Look for this redshirt freshman to spend next season backing up senior Jordan Jeffries and, then, becoming a fixture.
Taj Letman -- He's almost as impressive off the field as he is on the gridiron. That's saying something because the 6-3, 183-pound junior college transfer intercepted a pass during 7-on-7 drills in his very first collegiate practice. Off the field, he's a legit 6-foot-3 and he stands pretty tall with his comments, too. As the story goes, Marshall coach Doc Holliday told Letman the starting free safety job was his to lose. So far, he has shown no indication of allowing that to happen.
Devon Smith -- This mighty mouse of a slot receiver is listed at 5-7, 150 pounds. He must have had rocks in his pockets and been standing on tip-toes when he was measured. Why, he's smaller than offensive line coach Alex Mirabal. But he's also faster. During one practice, Smith took an innocent underneath pass, beat the linebacker to the edge and, then, ran away from everyone. Imagine how fast he'll be when he's healthy. Smith is still walking with a limp after off-season foot surgery.
Kent Turene -- He just might be the big hitter this defense is lacking. The 6-3, 238-pound redshirt freshman certainly looks the part at "Will" (weak-side) linebacker. Put Turene with middle linebacker Jermaine Holmes and Houston and they could comprise quite the welcome wagon for opposing running backs. That would be an SEC-quality linebacker corps.
Clint Van Horn -- The Beckley behemoth is Ansley's bookend at right offensive tackle. The sophomore is now 6-5, 324 pounds and looks like he should have "CAT" on his uniform instead of "MU." Van Horn is that big.
Sound like I'm spreading spring fertilizer?
This is all true green.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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