Marshall's pre-bowl practice has youthful feel
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall's inclusion in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 doesn't just help the players who will be participating in the contest to refine their skills.
In fact, some of the most important work being done by the Herd's coaching staff this week involves that which is done with some of the younger players.
Marshall coach Doc Holliday and his staff spoke about the multitude of benefits brought about by taking part in a bowl contest.
Holliday gave a sampling of his practice schedule for the bowl period with much of the focus being on the scout teams and the redshirt players.
"Our inside drill, for example (Tuesday), we'll go 12 plays with the ones and twos," Holliday explained. "Then we'll have a six-play stretch just with the developmental guys. It will be the same thing with seven-on-seven and same thing with our team periods."
Some of the hardest coaching from Marshall's staff throughout the practices has come with the developmental players in the time after veteran players are released from practice following the normal 25-period session.
Guys like wide receivers coach Mike Furrey, tight ends coach Todd Hartley and offensive line coach Alex Mirabal are out there with the young guys critiquing each technique and -- literally -- every single step made by the younger players who are still refining their skills.
Aspects such as footwork for receivers and framing the route are points of concentration while offensive linemen work on everything from posture and slide-steps to hand placement and leverage.
If ever there were such a thing as spring football in winter, this is it.
"If you count the week we had for the C-USA championship game and then about eleven or twelve practices before the bowl game, that's just as many practices as you get for spring ball," Holliday said. "We have about 16-to-17 practices before that bowl game, which is huge -- especially for the young offensive and defensive linemen because those are the ones you can really develop the most."
NEWCOMERS TO PRACTICE: A pair of notable additions to the pre-bowl practices took part in their first drills with the team on Tuesday afternoon.
Wide receiver Angelo Jean-Louis and wide receiver/tight end Deontay McManus hit the practice field for the first-time ever in green and white.
Jean-Louis' first practice came exactly one year to the day after it was announced that he was committing to Marshall.
The 6-0, 190-pound wide receiver from Palm Beach Central (Fla.) is a former Miami commit for the Class of 2012 who ended up going to prep school at Fork Union Military Academy instead due to academic issues.
He also sat out the 2013 season for Marshall as a non-qualifier academically, but those issues have since been resolved. Once grades were posted following the fall semester, Jean-Louis became eligible to join the Herd in drills.
McManus followed a similar path to Jean-Louis.
The 6-2, 230-pound Baltimore, Md., native originally committed to West Virginia University for the Class of 2012, but grade issues forced him to Atlanta Sports Academy where he played with fellow Marshall enrollees Corey Tindal and Kent Turene.
Like Jean-Louis, McManus enrolled for the spring semester of 2013 as a non-qualifier and took care of the academic work needed in the spring and fall semesters to become eligible.
In addition to being eligible for the subsequent practices in bowl season, the duo will also be eligible for practice in the spring.
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