HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—With a little more than a week to go in spring practice and Doc Holliday is starting to see progress. Not among the older veterans. He knew what they could do but there are questions on the second string. The second and third stringers are the players who benefit the most from spring practice. They get the reps that are mostly dedicated to starters in the fall and Marshall’s underclassmen are making the most of their opportunities.
“I told those guys out there I see some young players that we challenged at the beginning of spring that are starting to develop,” praised Holliday Tuesday afternoon.
“I noticed Ricardo Williams. I noticed Joe Massaquoi. I noticed Armonze Daniel. There’s Davonte Allen who has been tremendous the last three practices. I saw Angelo Jean-Louis make some plays and Gunnar Holcombe may have had his best practice since he’s been here.”
Williams, Massaquoi and Daniel will all be counted on along the defensive front but the most encouraging progress is with the outside receivers. Davonte Allen is showing signs he can become that outside threat to compliment Tommy Shuler in the slot and the tight end over the middle. In last Saturday’s scrimmage, Allen caught five passes for 122 yards. For Allen and the other receivers, all the talk about the necessity of their development has been a motivating factor.
“We’ve felt all the criticism coming but that’s motivated us to make those plays for our quarterback,” said Allen.
Of course, quarterback Rakeem Cato didn’t have much of choice but to throw the ball to someone other than Tommy Shuler. The Herd’s top receiver the past two seasons sat out the last scrimmage and watched from the sidelines. Cato understands that defenses will be gameplanning to stop Shuler this season and he must have other options downfield.
“I need to get those guys the ball. A lot of teams this year are going to bracket Tommy and out tight ends,” explained Cato. “Our outside receivers have to win because most of the time they’re going to be manned up. I told those guys I’m not going to skip my read or try to run the ball and make a play. I’m going to throw the ball. As long as we keep making plays those guys are going to keep building confidence.”
The Herd has two more scrimmages including the Green/White game to continue working on confidence and timing with the wideouts as well as building depth at other positions.
“You’re starting to see those guys we challenged that we felt going into spring ball that had to develop in order for us to get to where we wanted to go,” said Holliday. “That’s good to see.”
It’s good to see that defenses may have to worry about someone other than Tommy Shuler.