Herd Sends 24 to NFL in 2003

You've got the itch. You cannot explain it, but you know it is here. It is time. Time to break out the portable grill for a good scrubbing, removing the burger grease of 2002 from its blackened face. Time to shake last year's leaves and scorecards out the tailgating furniture, time to find new face paint and the team jersey, time to ask, "Are you ready for some football?"

Today, the school that went 1968 through 1982 without a drafted National Football League player, Marshall leads the MAC, and many other colleges, with 24 former Thundering Herd players in NFL camps this month. The madness that is two-a-days started Friday, July 18, begining with John Wade and his new team, the World Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who along with the Green Bay Packers started camp one day before the Kansas City Chiefs opened up on Saturday, the 19th.

Chad Pennington of the New York Jets arrived at Herm Edward's second camp on Sunday, July 20, then went 7 of 7 in his first passing drill on Monday. Rookie third-round draft pick Chris Crocker, of the Cleveland Browns, was arriving July 21, and hoped to begin his first camp on July 22, if he and his agent can agree on a contract with the Browns. The Jets announced, as of July 21, they had signed all of their draft selections over the weekend while, as of this story, the Browns had signed none of the team's seven choices from April's draft.

Looking back over the history of Marshall and its professionals, the Thundering Herd had 15 players selected in the NFL Draft between 1939, when Everett "Boot" Elkins (15th round) and Frank Huffman (16th round) went to the then-Chicago Cardinals and 1967, when Andy Socha, a running back, went in the 14th round to the Washington Redskins. MU went 16 years before it felt the draft again. In 1983, the MU streak came to an end when Carl Lee went to the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round.

Since Lee's selection in 1983, Marshall has had 13 more players drafted:

1989-Mike Barber, San Francisco, fourth round ; Sean Doctor, Buffalo, sixth round;

1993-Troy Brown, New England, eighth round;

1998-Randy Moss, Minnesota, first round; John Wade, Jacksonville, fifth round;

2000-Chad Pennington, New York Jets, first round; Rogers Beckett, San Diego, second round; Doug Chapman, Minnesota, third round; James Williams, sixth round;

2001-Paul Toviessi, Denver, second round;

2002-Chris Massey, St. Louis, seventh round;

2003-Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville, first round; Chris Crocker, Cleveland, third round; Steve Sciullo, Indianapolis, fourth round.

This gives Marshall almost as many draft selections,14, in the past 20 years as the Herd produced from 1936-1982, 15 in 46 seasons.

Since Troy Brown in 1993, the following non-drafted athletes have seen significant time as free-agent signees with the following NFL teams:

Mike Bartrum-Kansas City, Green Bay, New England and Philadelphia (1993-2003);

Chris Parker-Jacksonville (1996-98);

Billy Lyon-Green Bay and Minnesota (1997-2003);

Jamie Wilson-Carolina (1997-98);

Eric Kresser-Cincinnati (1997-2000);

Jermaine Wiggins-New York Jets, New England, Indianapolis and Carolina(1999-2003);

Chris Hanson-Cleveland, Miami and Jacksonville (1999-2003);

Giradie Mercer-Carolina, Philadelphia, New York Jets and Carolina (2000-03);

Olandis Gary-Denver and Buffalo (2000-03);

Jermaine Wiggins-New York Jets, New England and Indianapolis (2000-02);

Andre' O'Neal-Kansas City and Minnesota (2000-02);

Scott Harper-Baltimore (2001-02);

Jason Starkey-Arizona (2000-03);

Nate Poole-Arizona (2001-03);

J. R. Jenkins-Baltimore (2002-03);

Jason Witczak-Buffalo (2002-03).

The former Marshall players (and years played at MU) who will go to camp this August in the National Football League (*projected starter for 2003):

Arizona Cardinals-Nate Poole, wr, #19 (MU 1997-00) & Jason Starkey*, c, #50 (MU 1996-99);

Baltimore Ravens-J. R. Jenkins*, pk, #6 (MU 1997-00);

Buffalo Bills-Orlandis Gary*, rb, #22 (1994-95) & Jason Witczak, k, #11 (MU 1998-99);

Carolina Panthers-Giradie Mercer, dl, #97 (MU 1996-99) & Jermaine Wiggins, te, #84 (MU 1994-95);

Cincinnati Bengals-Rogers Beckett*, db, #42 (MU 1996-99);

Cleveland Browns-Chris Crocker, db, #25 (MU 1999-02);

Denver Broncos-Larry Coyer, assistant coach/defensive coordinator (MU 1962-64);

Indianapolis Colts-Steve Sciullo,* og, #74 (MU 1999-02);

Jacksonville Jaguars-Chris Hanson*, p, #2 (MU 1995-98), and Byron Leftwich, qb, #7 (MU 1998-02);

Minnesota Vikings-Doug Chapman*, rb, #34 (MU 1996-99), Billy Lyon, dt, #98 (MU 1993-96), Randy Moss*, wr, #84 (MU 1996-97) & Max Yates, lb, #39 (MU 1998-01);

New England Patriots-Troy Brown*, wr, #80 (MU 1991-92);

New York Jets-Chad Pennington*, qb, #10 (MU 1995-99);

Philadelphia Eagles-Mike Bartrum*, ls/te, #88 (MU 1988-92) & Denero Marriott, wr, #16 (MU 1999-02);

St. Louis Rams-Chris Massey*, ls/fb, #45 (MU 1998-01);

Seattle Seahawks-James Williams, wr, #88 (MU 1998-99);

Tampa Bay Buccaneers-John Wade*, c, #66 (MU 1993-97).

Historical note: Marshall has had players with every National Football League team since 1933 except: the Houston Texans, who started play in 2002; the Tennessee Titans, who began in Houston as the Oilers in 1960; and the New York Giants, who have played in the National Football League since its inception in 1922. The Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals have had the most Marshall players in their organization, with eight total including two for the 2003 camp. Second is the Minnesota Vikings (4-2003) with seven and tied for third with six each are Cleveland (2-2003), Detroit (last-1997), Philadelphia (2-2003) and Pittsburgh (last-1987).

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