Safety: A Strength for the Herd in 2012

Marshall lost both starting safeties from last years team. They also lost a starter from the previous season, and a player who was going to figure into the starting rotation quite heavily heading into spring camp. Safety is an important position for obvious reasons, and a position that is sometimes very difficult to fill.

The primary returning players from last season are walk on/former walk on Derek Mitchell, and true sophomore who saw limited action, Evan McKelvey. Much talent was lost for various reasons. Omar Brown is gone to the Baltimore Ravens, Brown will go down as one of the best, if not the best, safety in Thundering Herd history. Rogers Beckett, and CJ Spillman being two that are close. Also gone is fellow starter Devin Arrington. Arrington has been moved to outside linebacker.

Heading into spring camp, two other players appeared poised to make a push. Returning former starter, Donald Brown, and sophomore to be Phillip Warren who played in a big time way toward the end of the 2011 campaign and was showing why he was originally going to Texas Tech.

After reading the aforementioned info, why in the world would I go on to say the following statement, "the safety position for the Herd will be the best and most dependable position on the team, and none of the people mentioned thus far, including Mitchell and McKelvey, will start?"

Its simple, two names will soon be very recognizable to Herd fans, D.J. Hunter and Okechukwu Okoroha. Hunter is a former Tennessee recruit and highly rated safety from Ohio. He came to Marshall and was poised to start last season before suffering an injury which put him on the shelf for the entire season. He came back this spring and exploded up the depth chart, both due to talent and his ability to lead the rest of his team on the field.

Okoroha is a transfer from Boston College University. He sat out last season and will be here with one season of eligibility. Standing at 6'1" and weighing in at 205 pounds he is built like your prototypical safety. He actually started six games at the ACC school.

So, two starting safeties from former BCS schools, that is why I think this unit will be so good. There is plenty of talent behind them as well.

McKelvey, the younger brother of the departed Omar Brown, is athletically better than Brown, but still has some work to do in order to start. Of note, he changed his number from 30 to 31, the same number that Omar wore last season.

Junior Zach Dunston played alongside Hunter with the first unit most of spring camp. He had a solid camp, and is an excellent special teams player. Dunston will see some action at some point, and could battle Okoroha for starting time.

Derek Mitchell received valuable minutes last season as the replacement for both Brown and Arrington in case one of them got dinged up for a play or two. He will provide depth but should shine more on special teams.

The staff thought highly enough of this unit, even before the arrival of Okoroha, to move returning starter Arrington back to linebacker.

Below is my projected depth chart by the end of fall camp and prior to The Opening game:

1. DJ Hunter
2. Evan McKelvey

1. Okechukwu Okoroha
2. Zach Dunston

Marshall also received a second transfer from Boston College. I had mentioned him in the defensive backs article and not the safety article, but he could play both, and that is Dominick LeGrande. Like Okoroha, he will only have one season to play. LeGrande is taller, at 6'3", and would also fit the safety position quite nicely.

The Herd also signed Andre Scott and have former Arkansas Recruit Shawn Samuels on campus to supply depth and possibly play. I believe that Samuels will end up playing defensive back or the nickel position.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates.

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