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 - On Tuesday, Marshall senior wide receiver Obi Obialo went head-to-head with a defensive back and out-muscled him for a first-down catch that opened the day's practice in a team situation.

Following the play, there was no flashy celebration or signal that Obialo was letting the defense know about his play.

Instead, he flipped the ball back to a manager and sprinted down the field to join position groupings after securing the early practice momentum for the offense.

Perhaps no scenario showed what Obialo is all about - making a statement with his hands and his play instead of his talk - more than that first play.

It's one of the things that Marshall head coach Doc Holliday says makes him a leader on the team.

It's also what led him to being named to the 2019 Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Watch List on Tuesday afternoon.

The award is given to the top offensive player in Division I football with Texas ties who best exemplifies the traits of Earl Campbell, a former University of Texas and Houston Oilers star.

Those traits include integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community involvement and tenacity, specifically in regards to overcoming adversity or injury in pursuit of goals.

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said those features are what make the native of Coppell, Texas, a valuable asset to the team.

"No. 1, he's a guy that goes to work every day," Holliday said. "He's a talented guy - you talk about guys every day that have a lot of talent that don't go to work every day and they (don't) meet their potential - but he's a guy that we talked about taking potential and turning it into production. That's the way he practices. You practice how you play and if he plays how he's practiced the last couple of days, he's going to be a good player for us this year."

Last season, Obialo ended the year as Marshall's second-leading receiver, catching 42 passes for 505 yards and four touchdowns while becoming a go-to target as teams tried to take Tyre Brady out of the equation.

However, Obialo's value for the team went well beyond that, as his teammates pointed out.

The 6-foot-3, 214-pound senior who came to Marshall after spending a year as a walk-on at Oklahoma State has been critical in the success of the guys around him by being a good teammate and example while offering assistance for his whole position room to grow.

"When you've got great guys in front of you, it makes it easier to live up to that standard," sophomore wide receiver Stone Scarcelle said. "Young guys come in and see those same qualities, based off practicing what they do."

Graduate transfer Tavin Richardson also pointed out how important Obialo has been for him to come in and learn the techniques of wide receivers coach Dallas Baker and the system of offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey quickly so they can provide a strong tandem of outside receivers for the Marshall offense on Saturdays in the fall.

"Obi's helped me out a lot, especially with the offense - learning the new playbook, how Coach Bake and Coach Cramsey wants to run stuff," Richardson said. "We're bonding and it's helping me pick up stuff real fast about how to run stuff here."

Baker said the mindset of Obialo is what makes him special as a leader in the wide receiver room, and that outlook will lead to his success in the game and beyond.

"Obi is a guy that expects greatness, and you should always expect greatness and have high expectations," Baker said. "He wants to play in the NFL, but he - and all our guys - are humble. That mindset creates a great mesh within the room."


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