Huff hoping to see crop of less experienced players step up in spring

— By Bill Cornwell

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Three months removed from wrapping up a 9-4 season and finishing on a five-game win streak in 2022, Marshall got spring football underway Monday with its first of 15 practices.

Coach Charles Huff, entering his third season in Huntington, was mainly upbeat after the first practice session.

“It was good to get out and see some guys move around,” Huff said. “Consistency was a concern because with the younger guys, there was anxiety through the roof.”

Huff says this spring’s drills will be a proving ground for many of Marshall’s younger players with t little-to-no game experience.

“It’s time for some of the guys who were in our first recruiting class to show up on the depth chart,” Huff said. “Most of these guys had outstanding high school careers and now its time for them to transition that to competitive college careers.”

Youngsters expected to get a long look this spring include running backs AJ Turner, Isaiah Gordon and Maurice Jones, and offensive linemen Jalen Slappy and Tariq Montgomery.

Marshall’s defense, buoyed by the returns of end Owen Porter, lineman Tyqaze Leggs, linebacker Eli Neal and cornerback Micah Abraham, is also looking to develop depth at all three levels. 

Several key additions bidding for playing time include Wake Forest transfer J.J. Roberts at cornerback and lineman Jayshaun Coffman.

Huff isn’t saying that there is an open competition for the quarterback job after Cam Fancher started the last seven games of 2022.

Fancher’s experience gives him an advantage when compared with fellow quarterbacks Cole Pennington, Chase Harrison and Cade Cunningham.

“Cam had some good moments last year, but he still has some room to grow,” Huff said. “His job is to come out and make sure that the young guys don’t catch up to him.

“The young guy’s job is no different than Cam’s last year. I’m excited to see, out of that group, who takes the lead and the beauty of it is that they’re all going to get an opportunity.”

Marshall will be back on the practice field Wednesday and Saturday this week. Spring practice wraps up with the Green-White Spring Game at Joan C. Edwards Stadium at 4 p.m. on April 22.

— — — — —

Huff announced several major additions to the Marshall coaching and support staff.

The most notable addition was the hiring of Jason Semore as the Herd’s new defensive coordinator. Seymour comes to Marshall from Georgia Tech, where he coached linebackers last season.

Other key additions include new tight ends coach Derek Shay, who worked last season at Missouri, as well as former Marshall players Aaron Dobson and Danny Derricott, who are working as analysts.

Herd defensive backs coach Chevis Jackson has picked up added responsibilities as co-defensive coordinator. 

Rhett Purling has been hired as a quality control analyst with special teams after coaching in 2022 at Boston College.

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