An estimated 300 fans attended the scrimmage and sat out in unseasonably awesome temperatures. It was a cloudy morning until the first actual play from scrimmage took place, at that time, the sun came out and the temperatures still were struggling to get into the low 70's.
There were a lot of standouts in todays session. Rakeem Cato continues to shine at the quarterback position. He is in total control of the entire offense, not just himself. He led the team to two early scoring drives, ending in touchdown passes, one of which was a sideline pass to Demetrius Evans who caught the pass 30 yards down field and finished on his own. After catching the ball, he made a beautiful spin move on Boston College transfer Okechukwu Okoroha. Okoroha got a hand on him but could not make the tackle as Evans continued down the sidelines and dove into the endzone getting the ball inside the pylon.
The starting offensive line was, from left to right, Gage Niemeyer, Josh Lovell, Chris Jasperse, John Bruhin and Garrett Scott. The line did very well early on. Mass changes were made throughout the unit. The second team center appears to be true freshman Cameron Dees. Dees was getting all of the second team reps at the position ahead of walk on James Smith. Redshirt freshman Anthony Spano appears to have been moved to guard, and saw his reps from the left guard position. Dees handled himself very well playing across two excellent defensive tackles in Steve Dillon and Jarquez Samuel, both of whom will have very solid seasons whether as starters or back ups behind Marques Aiken and Brandon Sparrow. Dees only had one bad snap, which was a low shot gun snap.
Marshall expects to need a back up center with the departure of walk on center Channing Smith who had a great spring. Not sure what the reason for the departure was, but a back up will be needed. The only centers on the roster are the aforementioned guys in Jasperse, Dees, and Smith. Spano and fellow guard John Bruhin have also played the position.
The remaining starting offense was, as expected, Cato at qb, Andre Booker, Aaron Dobson and Antavius Wilson at wr, and Gator Hoskins at tight end. Running backs Martin Ward, Kevin Grooms, Remi Watson and Steward Butler shared the running back duties with Tron Martinez and Travon Van being held out. Watson looked the best of the group.
One highlight of the offense was an excellent seam pass from Cato to Dobson. Cato looked to the right side of the field, then quickly back to his left where he hit Dobson for a diving grab.
In regards to kicking, the punting situation is still very loose. Austin Dumas and Tyler Williams are the candidates. Williams came on strong late in the session to look the best.
Place kicking with Justin Haig and Trent Martin was not that even today. Martin nailed both kicks, Haig did not.
There were no special teams bad snaps as James Power and Matt Cincotta both did very well.
On defense the starting line was, Rashawde Myers and Jeremiah Taylor at defensive end. As mentioned earlier, Sparrow and Aiken at defensive tackle. Okechukwu Okoroha, and fellow transfer Dominick LeGrande started at safety. Monterius Lovett and Keith Baxter were with the first unit at defensive back. The linebackers were Jermaine Holmes in the middle, flanked by Devon Arrington and Raheem Waiters. Waiters can fly. Recently Evan McKelvey was moved to linebacker from safety as well, and he looked very good this morning.
A player to keep an eye on in the future is tight end Stefone Grace. Grace came to Marshall as a wide receiver, was moved to defensive end, then linebacker, and now tight end. He has very good hands and is an excellent athlete. With the departures of a couple young players recently in Chris Head and Rakim Reed, tight end is a position of need in a couple years.
Billy Rone and Derrick Thomas were both at practice. Neither were in pads yet as they have not completed the required number of practices in shorts and shells yet.
Thomas is a big defensive back.
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