HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall’s place-kicking competition ended earlier than expected.
Last week, well in advance of coaches releasing the preseason depth chart, freshmen Cole Phillips and last year’s starter Amoreto Curraj both announced they were leaving the football. It became clear that punter Kaare Vedvik would be taking over all kicking duties.
Vedvik, who started out at Marshall as a kickoff specialist, took over the punting role full-time as a junior. Now in his final season, Vedvik will have the chance to put some points on the board before he graduates.
“I just have to go out there and kick like I usually do,” Vedvik said. “I am used to the game atmosphere from punting and have plenty of game experience, so I just have to do my thing.”
It has become a rarity in college football to see one player at both specialists positions, but coach Doc Holliday said Vedvik is a different breed from normal kickers and punters.
“Vedvik is probably the toughest and most athletic kicker I have ever been around in all my years of coaching,” Holliday said Tuesday. “He is an unbelievable kid. Talk about a guy who goes to work everyday. You watch him in the weight room and the way he goes about his business — he’s a tremendous kid who takes pride in what he does.”
Vedvik aims to bring stability to the kicking game after Marshall made just 4-of-10 field goals during 2016.
Yuracheck helping flood victims
Tight end Ryan Yuracheck, whose father is the athletics director for the University of Houston, was looking for some way to help the areas of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey this week as his family relayed to him the damage they were seeing with their own eyes.
“The whole city got hit pretty hard, I heard my parents talking about helping people out of retirement homes and rescuing people from their houses. I felt guilty and wanted to help in some way,” Yuracheck said.
His solution was to start a Gofundme page to raise money for the Friendswood, Texas, area where his friends and family live. As of Tuesday night the page had received $3,745 in donations, surpassing the $1,000 original goal.
“It is awesome. The people here (in West Virginia), especially after what they went through last summer here, really understand what those people are going through,” Yuracheck said. “There are people with no relation to Houston, no relation to Marshall that just wanted to help out so they donated.”
Bee’s move inside
Ryan Bee spent the offseason bulking up as he prepared to move from defensive end to defensive tackle.
“The last three or four games last year I kind of played both positions, so I got a little experience there,” Bee said. “It was kind of a question mark coming in, but I have had a really good camp and been able to work the position and learn all the techniques.”
Second on the team in sacks last year and third in tackles for loss, Bee gained 20 pounds in the offseason.
“Now I’m at 280-plus, so it’s just working that new weight and dealing with different blocking schemes,” Bee said.
Along with the other members of Marshall’s front seven, Bee will face a tough season-opening test against a Miami (Ohio) team that averaged 37 rush attempts per game last year.
Off the field activities result in tighter bond
Multiple Marshall players credited the extended offseason camp with building unity.
“The whole team has come together,” cornerback Chris Jackson said. “Last year we were feeling our way through it, but now the secondary, linebackers, even the receivers, we are all brothers.”
Center Levi Brown pointed to the extended camp as one of the main factors in giving the team more time to bond.
“Coach Holliday incorporated some off days where we had pool parties, movie nights, stuff like that,” Brown said. “If it was someone you didn’t ever talk to, you got the chance to then, outside of football.
“We have bonded more as a team and feel we are a better team, a team together, than we were really at any point last year.”
Defensive tackle Marquis Couch said he activities have helped communication
“Everyone is starting to come together and hold each other accountable, because nobody wants to be that one person who messes up,” Couch said. “We have been getting together when coaches aren’t around. There are other things outside of football, just getting to interact with someone and see their personality and how they carry themselves helps build brotherhood.”
— By Troy Alexander