Young Players Impressing Early

The Herd suited up for the second day of fall camp this morning in front of a crowd of 50 or so Herd fans. They practiced under a hot sunny sky. Right from the beginning practice seemed to have a very upbeat feel about it. The guys were very into practice and practice was very spirited throughout.

Day two's morning session saw a group of players that were pretty much the same as Day One's morning session. There was one exception. Practicing this morning was big ole number 13 at defensive end. Yes, Armonze Daniel has apparently been moved from the linebacker spot to the defensive end position played by his younger brother. Daniel jumped right in and ran with the morning's first unit consisting of Steve Dillon at the opposite end spot. The highly anticipated duo did not seem to disappoint throughout the session.

Daniel showed very nice strength throughout the session. He is very explosive off the ball and is a lot stronger than he appears. Daniel appears to be very technically sound for a position that he has not played in three seasons. He is very comfortable lining up with a hand on the ground and has not lost a step at all.

Dillon is another extremely solid athlete. It is going to be hard to keep him off the field. It appears that he too will be playing the defensive end spot. Keep in mind, the Herd lost both Vinny Curry and Trevor Black from last years team, and James Rouse has missed a lot of time with now a second injury. Dillon, a highly touted recruit from California, should fit in nicely. This will leave three players, Dillon, RaShawde Myers, and Daniel to play opposite Jeremiah Taylor. Alex Bazzie could also see some time.

In other defensive end news, Stefone Grace has been moved from Defensive end to Tight End. Grace came here as a linebacker after being a wide receiver in high school, so he does have multiple talents.

Shawn Samuels is another player that stood out to me a little. As I stated yesterday, the former UAB/Arkansas commit is playing safety. Today, the staff moved D.J. Hunter to the second unit to work directly with Samuels. Clearly this was the case as Hunter took Samuels to the side during the first round of seven on sevens and coached him regarding the drill. Samuels is very fast and bigger than most incoming freshman.

I know it seems like I am talking about the same players as yesterday, but they keep standing out. The number one guy who keeps standing out is number one, A.J. Leggett. Leggett is head and shoulders above any first year defensive back to come to Marshall in a long time. He is very physical, and has very good make up speed. He is causing some fits with the older wide receivers, working mostly against Demetrius Evans. Evans has had a solid two days as well.

Tommy Shuler continues to just grind it out. Last season he battled his way into the lineup, and really helped out former teammate Rakeem Cato. This season he looks to have gained a step in regards to his speed, and he is still as confident as ever. He worked over Hunter on a couple deeper passes today in seven on seven drills.

Malcolm Strong has shown some improvement along the defensive line. He appears stronger and faster than last season. He also, as would be expected, seems to be more award of what is going on on the field and going on around him. Strong doesn't figure to factor into the depth chart this season, but could work his way into the rotation in a year or two.

Matt Cincotta continued to long snap, with Justin Haig kicking and Tyler Williams punting.

There is one thing of note in regards to the kicking game. If you remember back to an old punter we had named Klint Rose. Rose could kick it out of the stadium during practice, but really struggled during the season, and actually punted one sideways into the bleachers, literally, at Kansas State before being benched. Throughout the morning kicking sessions, the kickers were ok, but not great, mixing in a good kick here or there. However, they stepped up when it counted. On Haig's last kick, they moved it back to 47 yards. They said something to him, and he stepped up and drilled it. The staff was very happy, and the drill was over. Similarly, on the punting side, Williams, on his last punt of the day, boomed a 52 yarder.

This should be a sign that they are able to step up when it counts.

DeAndre Reaves, again, another player I spoke about briefly yesterday, is very good. Reaves has very good hands, and is lighting quick. He is not your typical smallish receiver. He is only listed at 5'10" but really could go outside and play later on in his career. He will make an impact at Marshall University, on the football field.

Other players of note who practiced this morning were Tron Martinez, C.J. Crawford, Billy Mitchell, Jordan Jeffries, Garrett Scott, Alex Schooler, and Blake Brooks.

Crawford had one of the best catches of the day, prior to taking a hit from Zach Dunston.

One thing I will leave you with is this. Enjoy watching Steward Butler. He is going to be fun to watch while he plays here, he is fast, allusive and explosive. I don't know where he will play, or whose playing time he will take, but I would be shocked if he isn't an impact player for the Herd in 2012.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates.

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