HUNTINGTON — In Marshall’s 2021 Spring Game, wide receiver Shadeed Ahmed’s first reception came uncontested as a defensive breakdown led to an easy pitch-and-catch with quarterback Grant Wells for a score.
For Ahmed, though, this spring was about making sure the defense — nor anyone associated with the Herd — never forgets him on the outside ever again.
Ahmed, whom head coach Charles Huff said he’d been hard on since arrival, drew praise from everyone associated with Marshall’s program after a breakout spring that culminated with a five-catch, 124-yard performance that yielded two touchdowns.
“A young man that I’ve been grinding on since I got here because he’s got all the talent in the world,” Huff said. “He’s just got to be consistent ... I think he made some really good plays (in the game). You got to see his skill set flash a little bit.”
Ahmed came to Marshall from Navarro College — one of three players who came to the Herd from the heralded Texas junior college in 2020.
While the other two players — linebacker Abraham Beauplan and cornerback Joshua Bowers — were on the defensive side, Ahmed was the lone entity on the offensive side.
That meant a bit of a learning curve upon arrival, which had Ahmed down the depth chart a bit as the 2020 season started.
However, injuries at the wide receiver position afforded Ahmed his opportunity in the latter part of the season, and he took advantage, catching six passes for 38 yards while gaining valuable experience and chemistry with Wells.
With Huff’s arrival, the focus is on the wide receiver position to develop more depth and reliability in the Herd’s open aerial attack.
This spring, wide receivers Willie Johnson, Broc Thompson and Artie Henry were all kept out of spring drills as injury precautions, which allowed receivers such as Ahmed and Caleb McMillan to gain experience within Huff’s system.
Wells said Ahmed took the opportunity in stride and kept running with it through the end of his successful spring game performance.
“I can’t think of a practice that he missed,” Wells said. “Springtime is such a vital part to gaining confidence with people and gaining confidence in that receiver room.
“When you are with somebody for 15 days straight, you know you’re going to start building some chemistry. Shadeed did a great job this spring, and it showed in the game.”
The 6-foot, 170-pound product of Richmond, Texas, also turned the heads of defenders while going against them this spring.
Veteran Marshall safety Nazeeh Johnson pointed out safety JoJo Evans and Ahmed as players who grew the most on each side of the ball.
“He came a long way,” Johnson said. “I mean, that kid, you see what he did in the spring. He has a lot of talent and he’s just executing on a different level. I think, when it’s all said and done, those are going to be two really good players for us.”
Moving forward, Ahmed’s emergence builds on a room that has the aforementioned targets, along with receivers Corey Gammage and Talik Keaton, which gives the receiver room for coach Clint Trickett plenty of options at his disposal.