Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch Marshall wide receiver Obi Obialo (7) makes a catch as Herd football continues spring practice on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON - For Marshall football head coach Doc Holliday, the wait is over.

As the calendar moved to August on Thursday, Holliday's players for the Thundering Herd filed back into the halls of the Shewey Building, going through team and position meetings, getting measurements and going through agility drills with the strength and conditioning staff.

The combination of events all meant one thing for Holliday and company: it's time to get back to work.

After Thursday's introductory session with the team, Marshall takes the field on Friday in the team's first official practice of the 2019 season.

Marshall's players have been waiting for weeks to get back on the field and preparing in camp for an actual game, according to some players at the team's photo shoot last week.

"Hopefully, everybody will come out ready to compete and to have fun," Marshall linebacker Darius Hodge said. "If you aren't having fun, then what's the point of playing the game?"

Hodge's new position - the linebacker spot - is one that will be under the watchful eye of Holliday and new defensive coordinator Brad Lambert, whom Holliday confirmed in that position at his introductory press conference on Monday.

Lambert is not only the leader of the defense, but also the linebackers coach. With Marshall graduating a major percentage of its production from the position in 2018, the defensive focus is going to be finding the right combination of guys around returning starter Omari Cobb.

Cobb had breakout performances in the conference portion of the 2018 season, finishing with 61 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown in the win over FIU. Cobb's interception return came one week after he was named the C-USA co-Defensive Player of the Week.

While he is solid at the linebacker spot, there is plenty of talent, but not a lot of experience with players like Hodge, Jaquan Yulee, and Tavante Beckett looking to emerge in more prominent roles.

Just as the linebacker spot has some questions entering camp, so too does the wide receiver position where Marshall has one solidified target in wide receiver Obi Obialo, but also brings in a pair of graduate transfers - Kentucky's Tavin Richardson and Central Connecticut State's Joey Fields - to go with a mesh of young talent.

Artie Henry showed the ability to produce in a reserve role in 2018 and Talik Keaton had perhaps the strongest spring of the group, but other young talents are looking to emerge for position coach Dallas Baker. Names to watch include Corey Gammage, Broc Thompson and Amir Richardson.

"You've got Obi and Artie - a couple of guys who have played a lot there," Holliday said. "Talik Keaton had an excellent spring and we've got some older kids added to the mix who are sharp, young guys who have played a lot of football so we'll see how it goes."

While those are the two mainstay positions in which Marshall fans will be focused to see development, Holliday was quick to point out that just because there are a wealth of starters back from 2018, that doesn't make those players immediate starters in 2019. Those positions are earned, not given.

"Competition at every position is great," Holliday said. "When someone is pushing someone else - whether it is running backs or offensive line or quarterback or whatever - it's healthy. It's healthy for those guys competing and it's healthy for your team. Fortunately for us, we have competition at about every position. That's a good thing."


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