HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has never been known as a hotbed for college football recruiting, even if every few years a player such as Randy Moss, Aaron Dobson or Ryan Switzer comes along and makes a few coaches’ eyes light up.

Otherwise, the majority of Marshall’s recruiting is done out-of-state—its roster loaded with players from Florida and Georgia was especially good to The Herd in the class of 2014. But Doc Holliday and recruiting coordinator Todd Hartley did not want to forget the players with Division I potential right here at home.

“We wanted to try to step foot in every school in the state,” said Hartley. “Not that we were going to sign all these kids as scholarship kids, but to say we haven’t forgotten about West Virginia. This is our home state. We want these kids who want to play Division 1-A football who are good enough to come and walk on.”

On Feb. 5, several in-state players took the opportunity to declare their intentions to join the Marshall football program as preferred walk-ons. Jacob Jackson (George Washington), Chase Hancock (Woodrow Wilson), and Austin Hill (Nicholas County) have all signed to walk-on with The Herd. Khance Johnson (South Charleston), Josh Martin (Madonna), and Jake Parker (Meadow Bridge) also have offers to walk-on at Marshall.

Preferred walk-ons don’t receive the fanfare as the 25 or so prospects who are offered scholarships each year, but that doesn’t mean they will not end up having a significant of an impact on the program. Chris Jasperse, a three-year starter and one of the top centers in C-USA going into his senior season, walked on at Marshall and earned his scholarship. Hartley said any recruit who thinks being a walk-on means being a tackling dummy on the scout team should realize otherwise.

“The model I use is Derek Mitchell,” said Hartley. “He came as a walk-on from Point Pleasant and earned a starting position on every special-teams unit his freshman year.”

Mitchell made the most of his time at Marshall, staying on scholarship through his senior year and becoming a special-teams captain. Mitchell may have not possessed the attributes of a five-star prospect but he enthused coaches and peers by working hard day in and day out and obviously loved to play football.

“He’s a West Virginia kid,” said Hartley. “If we can get a kid like that to come that is a huge success for our program.

Prior to National Signing Day, Holliday promised his staff would visit each high school in West Virginia to find another Derek Mitchell.  Some scoffed at the notion that Holliday and is his staff would take the time to visit West Virginia’s high schools, but Holliday kept his promise, hitting all but two schools. The only exceptions were missed because of adverse weather.

“We are looking for kids like that,” Hartley said of Mitchell and other walk-ons who have made names for themselves. “They have a role in our program and on our team.”

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  • J'hahn

    Your wish has been granted one of the perfered walk-ons Khance Johnson be playing ball with Marshall

  • Mister Man

    In-state athletes who deserve scholarships will get them.

  • steve

    You want to whine about in state talent going to WVU or Marshall-it's not like their going anywhere else either. Face it, WV is just not a hot bed for DI talent in any sport.

  • mounty

    I know that Marshall and WVU missed the boat on a super athlete from the eastern panhandle. 6'5 205 runs 4.57 40 had 65 catches for over 1200 yards and 12 TD. I also know for a fact that they never stepped foot in the school or even called about him. I also know for a fact that both schools were contacted by the Head Coach and never heard a thing back from them. You want to see this kid go to the state basketball tournament in a couple weeks and check him out.

    • Mister Man

      What other colleges missed the boat?

    • Scout

      He plays for the AAA undefeated and #1 ranked team...Washington! He does have mad skills!

    • Aaron

      4.6 is slow for a receiver.

      • Scout

        At what level is 4.6 not fast enough?
        high school, college, pro...???
        At what eight is it not fast enough?...
        180, 190, 200...???
        What about ball skills???
        What about game speed??
        What about quickness/ illusiveness.....Get the point? Trust me there are other intangibles to consider!

        • Aaron

          Most levels above high school.

          • Aaron

            Tell me scout, where is young Mr. Smith going to take his talents next year? For all you say he is, neither rivals or have stars on him.

            Why do you suppose that is?

          • Scout

            where I'm sure you never played!

    • rdl

      If you gave a name of this athlete maybe people could check him out.

  • William101

    I believe both schools, WVU and MU, give opportunities for WV players to walk on, and there are preferred walk-ons invited every year. Right now, Mike Molinari is our KO guy and holder. One of the Arndts from Martinsburg played on special teams last year, and he has a cousin who is also a walk-on. Logan Moore is in his second year as a preferred walk-on, and he will be slinging passes this spring practice. Houston Syverston is a well regarded walk on punter. Wes Tonkery, Cody Clay, and Elijah Wellman are on on full scholarship. Mike Molina is a walk-on kicker. The present roster shows a total of 17 W. Va. residents on the WVU roster.

    Marshall may promote their walk-on program, and good for them to provide walk-on opportunities to WV athletes. But so does WVU. It's good for the school, good for the students who love football, and good for the state. JMO.

  • Athought

    Track and football are two different sports. Kids from the south are typically faster but there are plenty of places you can find football players.

  • Greg Wamsley

    Mt son was a 3x all state selection, all state captain Sr.year. I think in top three MLB in state 2012 Year. 2x conference defensive player of the year. Good size, decent speed. Would have walked on in a sec. School 45 min. Away from Huntington. Never heard a thing from them.

    • Mister Man

      You don't need an offer to walk on. It is nice to have an invitation, though.

  • jay zoom

    holgerson and holliday might be related. there are many deserving in state athletes that deserve a scholarship but these schools toss them aside. WVU especially.

    • Steve

      While I agree that there are players that are passed by in this state, I think that as a rule, if there are players worthy of a D-I scholarship in this state they would be getting offers. There are many MAC schools and Sun Belt schools that would be offering along with Marshall and WVU.

  • Kevin

    Awesome job Herd I hope you continue to do this in the Future. I believe we do have more D1 talent than people think.

  • curious

    i know for a fact that Nigale Cabell from Huntington who in my opinion was the best defensive linemen in the state this year wanted to go too Marshall and they wouldnt give him a glance. Same way with the boy from Capital who won the Hunt award wanted a chance and once again not even a look at, these boys are in their own backyard and wouldnt even talk to them or their parents..

  • The Professor

    One more thing....Football is more than just how fast you run the 40 yd.dash!!!!
    There is a thing called HEART...It can't be measured!!!!
    Schools out........

    • Interesting123

      Plenty of kids from WV end up on scholarship at Marshall but they have to earn it. The simple fact is that all that heart in the world doesnt make you have athletic abilities. Most WV athletes who can play at this level need time to develop. This gives them a path to do that. There might be one or two athletes like Switzer or Dobson that are ready to play each year. Taking kids who arent ready to play D1-A, or whatever it is now, just to be nice is a good way to lose and get fired as a coach. I am also a WV native, and I am proud to cheer on a team that had a ten win season that concluded with a solid win over an ACC program in Maryland.

      • WVathlete

        Any sport you play you need heart to play it and especially at the D1 level. I played D1 football and even though speed is the key the immeasurable is the heart. It seperates the players from the cheerleaders. BTW...when I played for MU on a scholarship we had winning seasons and the Florida and Georgia kids cheered me on....and guess what?? They had better forty times...I had heart!!!!

      • The Professor

        Hey interested,
        You really should do your homework before you post things that you aren't sure about. How many WV kids are there on MU's roster....10-20 at most...out of approx. 100 kids. Don't tell me there are many WV kids on a scholarship at Marshall. Read the article for peeks sake even the title is telling you Doc wants WV kids to walk-on. What makes you think the Florida and Georgia boys are so ready to play. What is Doc's overall record in the 4 yrs. he's been coaching...maybe .500? Only reason he won 10 games this year is because the schedule was one of the worst in the country! MU is no hot bed for Championships like it use to be so please don't give me this crap of everybody else is better than the WV kids. Get some freakin pride about you and call it what it is...The WV kids are getting slighted by a program that is not even a championship caliber program...Doc hasn't even won the C-USA Championship!...and by the way Maryland hasn't won crap in almost twenty years much for this big ACC opponent. You really ought to study more!!!

        • Interesting123

          Research you say? Try the link below. What you will find is that in ALL of college football there are very few players that come from WV. I guess there must be some conspiracy against WV players. Given the number of successful coaches that come from WV and don’t recruit here, that’s the only explanation. It’s either that OR the players just aren’t ready for college football. It’s not just me saying they aren’t ready, clearly college coaches believe that or you would see more players coming from WV. You will also notice that that Florida and Georgia have many players playing college football. So either I am correct and you’re wrong or we have a conspiracy against WV. If a player has talent they will find him. How do you think Switzer ended up at UNC? I don’t think college football coaches are in the business of turning down good players but maybe that’s why so many get fired every year. Let’s not act like a coach can take over for someone who left the roster with only a few guys ready to compete and win championships in year one. Yes, Doc had one good year so far that included wins over ECU, who beat NC State and UNC, as well as Maryland who blanked WVU and at one point in the year was ranked. The future is yet to be determined. However, I will place my bets with the rest of the college football coaches in the country and stick to recruiting areas that have shown they can produce D1-A level football players. Again, follow the link. College football coaches have spoken and for the most part they agree with me. I am not saying WV players don’t deserve a chance, but there just aren’t enough to justify using a bunch of roster spots on. When a player like an Aaron Dobson comes along they get a scholarship. Others are offered walk on spots with a chance to earn a scholarship.

          • The Professor

            You are right about saying Forida and Georgia kids get recruited more than WV kids. Duh?..I would think so considering the poulation of those states are enormously larger than WV. It doesn't take a brain trust to know WV is a small state and that is why our state does not get recruited...not even by one of its own schools! Nonetheless the point the article is speaking to is WV kids can help the program at MU by walking on. The problem i have with this concept is anybody can walk on a D1 football program at anytime. Is that all the WV kids deserve? The Dobsons, Moss's and Switzers have to be All Americans and NFL ready to get you folks to see the talent in your own backyard? Alot of these posts are exactly on point when mentioning the WV kids that Doc hasn't given time nor day. And how many kids do you see coming from anywhere in the country that are ready to play as freshmen? Did you? Most D1 football scouts, coaches and kids will tell you...a scholarship kid is blessed if he is able to start two years at a D1 school. I know cause I played four years at MU and started for three years...yes a WV kid on scholarship at MU! How times have changed? We need to get some representation from WV on the WV schools...period! You said it did Ryan Switzer get out of this state? Like the other D1 WV kids the MU and the WVU didn't offer him until late! SHAME ON THESE SCHOOLS! And don't think he is the only one our state has overlooked. If these kids from out of state were so good then why aren't their state schools recruiting them? I 'll tell you why cause 1/2 of them don't have the grades and the other 1/2 aren't as good as you and Doc think they are. Walking on is for anybody that wants to play but I don't like the message MU is sending that the only option for the the WV kid that wants to play for MU is walk on!!! At least WVU has picked up several on scholarship from this state....just this year! Why can't Doc do the same!? Isn't like MU ever beat WVU in anything!!!

  • The Professor

    Article should read 'WV kids not good enough to play at Marshall on scholarship'.
    Funny though...First kid to get National recognition at MU was from WV in 1986 with Sporting News magazine.
    Most winningest teams of the 90's for MU featured almost 1/2 the roster with WV kids!!!
    Now MU has to get Florida and Georgia kids with prop 48 baggage to carry them to second and third place finishes in one of the worst conferences with one of the weakest schedules in MU history!!!
    Makes you wonder whose really dropping the ball here???
    Being a WV native I would much rather support WV schools that recruit WV kids.
    Just because we are WV people doesn't mean we don't need financial help for school. Its very stupid to think otherwise!!!

    • Mister Man

      The competition Marshall had in the 1990's was conducive to recruiting in-state players. But that was NCAA IA. When Marshall moved to the MAC they still had winning seasons. When they left the MAC things got tougher. That's when Marshall's coaches realized they had to recruit more out-of-state players to be able to be more competitive.

      • The Professor

        wow...thanks coach Man!

      • Mister Man

        Ok, NCAA IAA.