Number 27

Today is part one of a series which I will be looking at Marshall in the past, and present through numbers. Most notably, taking a number, and running it back into time, and then ultimately previewing the current player on this season's roster who will be wearing that number for the Thundering Herd this upcoming football season. I will not be going in order, I hope you enjoy. Today's number is 27.

The number is simple, and can be used for multiple positions, whether it be an offensive skill position player, or a bruising linebacker on defense. Today's correlation will be just that.

In the early 1970's, the Marshall Thundering Herd's football team just could not seem to win more games than it lost. It was in the middle of a long span of losing seasons, one of which would not be broken until 1984. However, in 1976, the Herd gave it a run. Against all odds, they went into the final three games of the season with four wins and four losses. Marshall fell short of its goal by losing the final three games. However, one of the aforementioned wins was a sweet one indeed.

Marshall was set to line up against the mighty Miami of Ohio Redskins, now Redhawks. Miami was ranked number 20 in the entire country, and came into the game as a 30 plus point favorite. The game was at Old Fairfield Stadium. Marshall starting quarterback Bud Nelson was hoping to pull the upset.

Marshall fell behind early in the game after two fumbles, 9 to 0. The Herd bounced back to score 21 straight points. Marshall won 21 to 16 with the final Miami points coming on a fumble return for a touchdown on the last play of the game.

It was a huge win for the Herd. Marshall had not beaten the Redskins since 1939.

Where does the number 27 come into play? Marshall's leading receiver on that day was Fuzzy Filliez. Filliez ended the day with 5 catches. Fuzzy had a wonderful career for the Herd. Earlier on that season, in a game against Illinois State, Filliez, as usually had a reception in the game. That reception enabled him to break a record held by the great Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska. Rodgers held the record of 34 consecutive games with at least one catch.

Filliez was a flamboyant wide receiver who seemed to float across the field. He had long hair and really enjoyed the game. Number 27 on this years squad came to campus with long flowing blonde hair as well. Hailed as the next coming of Cody Slate, a tight end who had long blonde locks himself, Billy Mitchell was an athletic undersized tight end. Shortly after his arrival, he put on the number 85, just like Slate. That was short lived however, and Mitchell was moved to linebacker.

Wearing the number 27, Mitchell played in all 12 regular season games, as well as the Herd's season ending bowl win over Florida International University. Mitchell recorded two tackles in the game and recovered a blocked punt and returned it deep into FIU territory to set up what would prove to be the game winning field goal.

Mitchell heads into the 2012 campaign as one of the Herd's starting linebackers. Mitchell is athletic enough to play any of the three positions, but should end up on the outside along with Devin Arrington as they flank sophomore Jermaine Holmes.

Mitchell is a 6'3", 226 pound redshirt junior. He is from Navarre, Florida.

What happened in this year? In 1927 Marshall finished the season with five wins, three losses and one tie. There are no common opponents on that schedule compared to this years slate, although Louisville, from last season, was played in 1927. Marshall beat the Cardinals, handily, 37 to 6, on the road. Marshall also beat Alderson Broaddus, Concord, New River State, and Fairmont State. They lost to Ohio Wesleyan, Canisius, and West Virginia Wesleyan, and tied John Carroll.

The Herd finished 4 – 1 in conference play, and was coached by Charles Tallman.

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