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Curry leads Herd on field, on Twitter

MU football
Apr. 19, 2011 @ 05:46 PM

What does young Marshall University defensive end Trevor Black do when he needs help? “I ask Vinny,” he said.


Who does first-year defensive line coach Fred Tate tell his players to learn from the most? “I tell them to go to Vinny,” he said.


Before spring practice began, what was the first name head coach Doc Holliday mentioned when asked about potential leaders for the 2011 season? “Vinny,” he said.




He is Vinny Curry, the no-doubt, most-respected player on the Thundering Herd football team.


He’s got the stats — 94 tackles, 12 sacks last season. The presence — 6-foot-4, 270 pounds and a smile that could stretch from Huntington to his hometown of Neptune, N.J.


And he’s got the FleeNation.


The what?


“Oh, man,” said the senior defensive end with a chuckle. “It started out as my nickname and my friends added a ‘nation’ to it.


“It just blew up from there.”


You might know him as “Vinny” or “Curry” or “Big No. 99,” but log on to Twitter and you can follow him at “MrGetFlee99.” The All-American candidate is the founder of a social network phenomenon that started in a place far from a computer and stretches to places well beyond a maximum of 140 characters.


“FleeNation, it’s a group of guys,” said MU defensive tackle Delvin Johnson, aka “ForeverFlee98.” “We’ve all been hanging together since we were props (Prop 48), when we first came here about four years ago.


“It’s a strong group of guys that’s always been together. It’s somebody that we look to when we’re down because they’ll be there to pick us up.”


Mr.GetFlee was the moniker given to Curry when he was starring for Neptune High. It stuck with him on his stop at Harmony Community School in Cincinnati and now in Huntington.


Curry, himself, has 346 followers. Defensive tackle Brandon Bullock, aka “FLEE_SNACKZ,” he’s got 127 followers. Former Herd D-lineman Johnny Jones, or “FleeKnowledge,” has 542 followers.


Friends from off the field include a “Flee_A_Veli” and “Marty_McFlee.”
Together, the FleeNation goal isn’t just about creating similar names and hanging out with each other. It’s about reaching out and getting involved.


“Right now, we’re just trying to do mad positive things and just trying to keep it moving,” Curry said. “Just trying to get it bigger than it is right now.”


Such as?


“Maybe trying to give back to the community,” Curry said. “Do some volunteer work.”


“There’s nothing negative coming out of the whole group,” Johnson said.


“It’s not a gang or anything like that.


“It’s just positive. Positive images.”


And that positivity has been brought to the team.


T-shirts have been given out, FleeNation wristbands can be seen on certain players.


“(Coach) Doc Holliday has a policy in place and we’re trying to stick with that code,” Johnson said. “And FleeNation is trying to bring something positive if there’s any negativity that surrounds the team.


“It’s nothing but positive around here.”


And the culture is trickling down to Marshall’s younger players.


Sophomore defensive tackle Marques Aiken said FleeNation has already sparked his co-founding of TopFlight, which includes fellow sophomores Demetrius Evans, Tron Martinez and Jazz King, among others.


“It’s all about unity,” Aiken said.


For Curry, being the head of FleeNation is just an extension of his leadership role with the team.


“Flee Nation is just something you want to do, man,” he said. “Go hard or go home in anything you do. ... Anything is possible. Live positive and God is going to look out for you.”


Andrew Ramspacher is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Comments may be e-mailed to him at aramspacher@herald-dispatch.com.