Huff: Recruiting all but wrapped up, still awaiting decision from Porter

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Christmas and New Year’s Day were times of joy for Marshall football coach Charles Huff and the Thundering Herd football program.

The Herd ended a topsy-turvy 2022 season with a 28-14 win over Connecticut in the Myrtle Beach Bowl, part of a season-ending five-game win streak.

Huff, whose team finished 9-4, met with the media this week and discussed several topics.

The coach said he and his staff have basically wrapped up their recruiting — both incoming freshmen and transfers. Huff won’t be announcing that class until signing day February 2 and says there’s a reason for that.

“If you are too easy to release information on young men who commit to your program, you risk having them taken away,” Huff said. “Other schools who haven’t begun classes are still making efforts to attract young men who were offered scholarships or announced they were committing to us.”

Huff says the decisions of defensive veterans Micah Abraham and Eli Neal to play another year has been a big bonus, but he’s still awaiting a decision from Spring Valley’s Owen Porter, who was a first team All-Sun Belt Conference player at defensive end after recording 9.5 sacks.

“Owen has some options to look at after the season he had,” Huff said. “He’s gathering information about possibly preparing to play at the next level and if he has a chance to be drafted or picked up as a free agent.”

Huff also discussed two other issues dealing with the program’s finances.

The coach was pleased the Marshall University Board of Governors last week approved additional funds for the financial pool from which football assistants are paid.

“Our assistant salaries have drastically improved from their action,” Huff said. “We were in the bottom in the Sun Belt Conference last season in staff pay, ahead of only James Madison and Louisiana-Monroe, but now we’re in the middle of the league in regards to staff pay.

“We lost 13 coaches and staff members after the 2021 season, but the extra money will hopefully lower those losses this offseason.”

Another financial topic being dealt with nationwide is the ever-popular Name, Image and Likeness and the compensation of college athletes through NIL opportunities.

Marshall has a NIL program in place through the “Thunder Trust.” Yet Huff knows those opportunities must grow because other schools are throwing money and other offers at athletes throughout the country.

“Just recently, coach prime (recently hired Colorado head coach Deion Sanders) called one of our starters and asked if he’d like to leave Marshall and play at Colorado,” Huff said. “We also had a larger university near us reach out to one of our top players offering NIL money if he’d leave, but he said no and is staying with us.”

The Herd has started offseason conditioning under the supervision of Marshall Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Performance Ben Ashford. The conditioning program, 4th Quarter, paid dividends down the stretch in allowing the Herd to go unbeaten in November before its postseason triumph. 

“Winning five games in a row to end the season shows that the 4th Quarter program really paid off,” Huff said. “Late in the year, we were healthier and in better shape than our opponents and we were simply just as fresh as in the early part of the season.”

— — — — —

Marshall recently reinstated its men’s track and field program, which has attracted several members of the football team.

The team makes its debut Saturday in the Marshall Classic, which is being held on the Jeff Small Track at MU’s Chris Cline Athletic Complex.

Seven football players are on the track roster: Running backs Rasheen Ali and AJ Turner, defensive back Joshua Bowers, safety Jacobie Henderson and receivers Jayden Harrison, EJ Horton and Caleb McMillan.

“It’s our community. We’re all in this together,” Huff said. “We’ve got athletes that can help build our track team. Any time we can help improve what we have here on campus, I think it will allow our track coaches to go out and recruit and it helps us be able to recruit multi-sport athletes.”

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