— By Bill Cornwell
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall’s football team is down to the final few sessions of spring practice and second-year head coach Charles Huff says his team is making necessary strides to be successful.
“We are at the point now where we know what we have to do to build on what our players can do,” Huff said.
The final test for the Thundering Herd comes Saturday when the program’s annual Green-White Spring Game takes place at 3 p.m. inside the Chris Cline Athletic Center.
The event is being held indoors due to the upcoming replacement of the artificial surface at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The stadium will be open during the spring scrimmage and fans will be able to watch it on the stadium’s video screens.
Huff mentioned some continued areas of focus during the remainder of spring drills after a recent practice:
Huff says Cam Fancher is the clear front-runner among five quarterbacks working this spring, but he’s also impressed by true freshmen Chase Harrison and Peter Zamora.
“Cam is ahead from a comfort standpoint,” Huff said. “Others have had spotty success. It’s a back-and-forth growth situation and you can see their confidence increasing. I’m pleased with their progress.”
The quarterback room changes when fall practice begins as Texas Tech transfer Henry Colombi enters the competition for playing time.
Colombi will have the most experience of any Herd signal-caller as he threw 314 passes over the last two seasons for the Red Raiders. Colombi also saw limited action in the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Utah State.
Huff is happy with the work of four returnees, but it’s been a humbling experience for reserves going against veteran defenders from last year’s team in addition to Power 5 transfers along the defensive line — Isaiah Gibson from Kentucky and Anthony Watts from Purdue.
“I hope those young guys don’t lose confidence because they have to realize they’re going against defensive guys who have talent, strength and lots of game experience,” Huff said.
The unit got a lift late Sunday from the ever-popular transfer portal when former Rutgers offensive lineman Cedrice Paillant announced he was heading to Huntington.
Paillant played 20 games for the Scarlet Knights over the last two seasons, 13 of which he started at left guard.
Huff held out 2021 Conference USA first team running back Rasheen Ali from spring drills.
That’s given other backs a chance to shine. He’s been especially pleased with the scrimmage work of freshman A.J. Turner and Florida State transfer Khalan Laborn, a heralded recruit out of high school when he signed with the Seminoles.
“You can see that Khalan has played in big games because he knows what to do when the holes open up,” Huff said.
One concern for Huff is getting the new Edwards Stadium turf in place for the start of Marshall’s summer conditioning program on June 1.
Herd fans are now voting via Twitter on their preferences for the field’s color scheme and design.
“I don’t care if the field is green, white or pink,” Huff said, “as long as it’s ready for us to start our summer program at the start of June.”