Diamonds in the Rough

The recent sudden death to former Marshall recruit OJ Murdock got me to thinking about past recruits who didn't quite pan out after, or prior to, their arrival at Marshall. There always seemed to be a high number of the higher ranked players who didn't seem to make it. Now, after learning more and more about how the recruiting process works, it is easy to see why this happened.

There are many reasons as to why kids don't seem to make it. Those reasons range from issues such as grades, i.e. Paul O'Hara. O'Hara was a highly ranked and nearly went to Florida before committing to Marshall late. Some players suffered legal issues. One example was former Georgia recruit and highly rated linebacker Josh Johnson. Former quarterback A.J. Graham would also fit this category. There there were the guys who just seemed to be out of shape, most notably former Clemson recruit Jo Jo Cox, and junior college tight end Maurice Graham. There were also those who suffered injuries, the two biggest ones here were former quarterback Adam Black, and wide receiver Jermaine Filer. Black had a bad ear, Filer a bad leg, both injuries were not your normal pulls, sprains or breaks, but just odd injuries. Black had a whole in his ear drum, and Filer had an issue with a leg that would just lock up mid stride for no reason.

The final category remains a mystery. Those players who either didn't show up, or didn't pan out, and most don't know why. Mandell Smith, Tank Tunstalle, and Deondrea Lindsey would have to be at the top of that list. After looking at names, and thinking back, I realized it would be more fun to focus on those guys who came to Marshall with little to no recognition, and turned out to be stars. Listed below are my top 5, most unheralded recruits at Marshall University over the past 10 years.

5. CJ Spillman – Spillman was a 6'1", 195 pound safety from Fork Union Military Academy. He was brought here in the 2005 class along with two other Fork Union guys, Marcus Roberson and E.J. Rascoe. Roberson was supposed to be the one that they were after, the other two were coming along with him. Flash forward 7 years later, and Spillman, after a stellar career with the Herd, just concluded another NFL season, this one with the San Francison 49'ers.

4. Devin Arrington – Arrington arrived at Marshall in 2008 from Chesapeake, Virginia. Coming from the famous Deep Creek, High School, Arrington was recruited as a project. He was a 6'2', 190 pound athlete who had no real projected role or position. Now, entering his senior season, Arrington is an unquestionable leader. Arrington played linebacker two seasons ago, and had multiple game changing plays, including an interception on the road against Tulane. Last season, out of necessity, Arrington was moved to safety, where he started each game. This season, his senior year, the fan favorite, and quiet leader, moves back to linebacker where he should have an excellent season. Arrington has changed his number to the number 11. I solid season, could move Arrington up this list.

3. Albert McClellan - The 2005 recruiting class, which would turn out to be former Coach Bobby Pruett's last class, was a good one. It contained three NFL players in the aforementioned Spillman, large offensive lineman Daniel Baldridge, and this player, Albert McClellan. McClellan was lightly recruited out of Lakeland Florida. Like Spillman, he was not the primary target out of that school, in fact, he wasn't even the primary McClellan of the year. Marshall was really after dynamite junior college WR, Julius McClellan. One way to go about that was to offer Albert. They also were after Albert's teammate, Darrell Lake. Julius went elsewhere, Lake came to Marshall then left after having seen little playing time, and Albert, well, Albert ended up with the Baltimore Ravens. A skinny, 210 pound linebacker out of high school, McClellan controlled the defensive line for the Herd right from his true freshman season. He will go down as one of the best defensive lineman in school history.

2. Doug Legursky – Legursky was a member of the 2004 recruiting class. He was tossed into the mix as a true freshman. Legursky was an unranked offensive lineman from Beckley, WV. He actually had zero stars and was not expected to be in the mix. Legursky now owns a Super Bowl ring as a member, and starting lineman on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Legursky is one of the rare examples of where no ranking, and no stars, equals an NFL job.

Number 1 - Vinny Curry – Curry was an academic non qualifier coming out of Harmony Prep School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Curry is originally from Neptune, New Jersey. Curry had to set out his first year due to academics. He sat out along with three other players, all three were more highly touted than Curry. Brandon Bullock, Delvin Johnson and Jo Jo Cox were the other three. I remember a former teammate of theirs, Jimmy Skinner, telling me that Johnson and Curry were the real deal. Well, he was right, both are now in the NFL. Curry had very few offers, Akron and Bowling Green were two of the others, and was actually listed as a linebacker coming out of high school. Curry is coming off being named the CUSA defensive player of the year, he dominated the line for the Herd this season and was the second round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles.

There is my breakdown on my top 5 recruiting steals for the Marshall Thundering Herd.

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