HUNTINGTON — The physique looked familiar, as did the tattoos, but it took a minute for some Marshall University football fans to recognize Max Yates.
It was the hair. He had it — long, dark locks that were a stark contrast to the bald head he sported during his playing days from 1998 through 2001 when he terrorized Mid-American Conference offenses as a middle linebacker.
Yates and eight other former Thundering Herd star athletes were inducted into MU's Hall of Fame Friday and were honored on the field at Joan C. Edwards Stadium before Marshall's 33-31 victory over Ohio on Saturday.
Yates said he was honored beyond belief by his induction.
"I'm overwhelmed with emotion," Yates said before the game. "I'm thankful to have the opportunity to thank the fans, the community, the staff, the coaches, the athletic department and all the people who made this possible. I'm glad to have the opportunity to have the platform to thank everyone."
Others in the 2019 Hall of Fame Class were:
John Brannen, men's basketball (1995-97); Nichole Corrigan, softball (1999-2002); Rachel Folden, softball (2005-08); Tom Kuempel, baseball (1995-98); Milla Kuurto, women's swimming and diving (2002-06); Giradie Mercer, football (1996-99); Mark Sheridan, men's swimming and diving (1977-81); and Jamie Wilson, football (1993-96).
Yates was a star defender on teams known more for prolific offenses. He led the Herd in tackles as a junior with 115, 74 solo, and again with 159, 92 solo, as a senior. He also led Marshall in quarterback sacks as a senior with 5.5. Yates finished with 382 career tackles, 10th all-time in the program's history.
A team captain in 2001, Yates was a four-year starter who finished with 201 tackles, 182 assists, 27 tackles for loss, eight sacks, 10 pass breakups, 23 quarterback pressures, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He was named the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior and first-team All-MAC twice and second-team once. The Herd was 12-1 in 1998, 13-0 and No. 10 in nation in 1999, 8-5 in 2000, and 11-2 in 2001, winning three Motor City Bowls and the GMAC Bowl in 2001.
Yates helped Marshall win three MAC titles and to a record of 44-8 record, 31-5 in the MAC, before going on to play with the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings.
Yates said he doesn't recall those statistics and remembers few of the many games that stand out in the minds of others.
"I remember the people, the community" Yates said. "I remember all the love. I don't remember many games."
A district director of security for Macy's Chicago district, which covers much of the Midwest, Yates and his wife and two children live in Columbus.
"I've been with Macy's for 14 years," Yates said. "After football ended, I went to work for Macy's and I enjoy it."