HUNTINGTON, W.Va.— As the regular season comes to a close Saturday against Southern Miss, so do the careers of the 12 Marshall seniors.
There are thirteen players who will suit up in green and white for the last time in their final regular season game: defensive backs C.J. Reavis, Rodney Allen, D’Andre Wilson, and Dontrell Johnson. Defensive lineman Blake Keller and Davon Durant. Offensive lineman Sandley Jean-Felix and A.J. Addison. Receiver Hyleck Foster, kicker Kaare Vedvik, running back Tony Pittman, and tight end Ryan Yuracheck.
Junior linebacker Eli Gates will also be graduating early to join the Navy Seals.
Coach Doc Holliday lauded the impact they had on the program.
“It is not a huge senior class, but there are a lot of seniors going out of here that are really special,” said Holliday. “There aren’t a lot of starters in this group, but guys like Eli Gates, D’Andre Wilson, and Tony Pittman contribute in a lot of different ways on special teams and helping this football team try to find a way to win games.”
Holliday highlighted Keller and Yuracheck for solidifying the class. Both were named captains for Saturday’s game along with Vedvik and Tony.
“Everyday (Keller) goes to work and plays hard, he is a guy that just loves football and loves being at Marshall and what the program is about—Yuracheck is the same way,” Holliday said. “You talk about a guy that has come in and embraced the history of the school and the off the field stuff—anytime you see a picture of somebody at the hospital with these sick young kids Yuracheck is in that picture—he is always giving back and a tremendous ambassador for the university, he is going to be extremely successful no matter what he decides to do.”
One more time
With the final home game quickly approaching, Yuracheck said it feels like just yesterday when he was walking into Joan C. Edwards stadium for the first time.
“This is something that has flown by/ I am not quite ready for it to come to an end,” said Yuracheck. “Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and that is this Saturday at 2:30 p.m., I am looking forward to being out there one last time and hopefully we can get a win.”
D’Andre Wilson, who made his impact on the team as a special teams ace over his five seasons with the Herd, said Marshall has taught him many life lessons over the course of his career.
“It taught me who I am, being around this group of guys I found myself,” said Wilson. “I know my role, people hate the position they are in, but this program showed me to keep fighting.”
Wilson said he is glad his final game fell on the week of Thanksgiving break so he can focus in on his last week of football without distraction.
“We can really dial in for our last game at the Joan, I can soak up being with the guys and coaches, I am glad it happened on this week to be honest.”
Wilson said a decision on what to be thankful for this year for the Thanksgiving holiday will be an easy one.
“This team, this university, the coaching staff, and players I am around,” Wilson said. “It isn’t like a family— it is a family, I am going to miss this.”
Quarterback Chase Litton said getting a win for the seniors is the only thing that matters.
“We are playing for our seniors, the guys who have been here four and five years and put everything in for this program and this team,” said Litton.
Holliday said Tyre Brady and Marcel Williams, the team’s two top receivers, could return against the Golden Eagles.
“Hopefully we get those guys back. We will see this week,” said Holliday.
The offense struggled without their playmakers against UTSA, gaining just 12 first downs and scoring seven points while turning the ball over two times.
Brady leads the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns this season, with 56 catches for 777 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Running back Tyler King, who only received seven carries Saturday despite not showing up on the injury report last week, is also banged up according to Holliday.
“He missed a practice last week, but he should be fine this week,” Holliday said. “You get twelve weeks into the season, you get some guys banged up when you go nine straight.”
Holliday said injuries won’t effect the effort given by the team.
“We have to give a great effort and we will. This football team plays hard from start to finish and leaves everything out there on the field,” Holliday said. “We have to find a way to get one more point than Southern Miss on Saturday and send these seniors out the right way.”
— By Troy Alexander