Freshman Football Players Report for Duty

<P><B>Huntington, WV --</B> Freshly-minted Marshall linebackers DaMarcus Thomas and Kevin Atkins finally got a chance to feel like real Marshall football players on Friday. As if the new helmets and pads weren't enough, both Thomas and Atkins also got their first taste of being a member of the Herd: Media interviews.</P>

Thomas, from Atlanta, GA, and Atkins, from Richmond, VA, checked in for freshman football orientation at the Marshall Stadium facilities building Friday morning, along with 28 other new players.

"I really like it here," Thomas commented. Having arrived a week early, Thomas had a jump on most other new players in becoming accustomed to Huntington, and got to know his new teammates. "I had a chance to hang with Max Yates. I've been watching Max for the past couple years. He's inspired me a little bit," Thomas said of Marshall's senior linebacker.

New Marshall LB Kevin Atkins gets fitted for a helmet

For Atkins, the process of getting fitted, prodded, probed, and tested was a bit draining. "I'm a little tired," Atkins said. Like Thomas, Atkins has been in Huntington for a few days, getting an early jump on getting used to the new environment that is Thundering Herd football. "It was difficult at first, because I came here and didn't know anybody at first." Atkins went on to say that he knew friends would come quickly, he just had to wait for practices to begin.

The waiting finally came to an end Friday afternoon as the Marshall football coaching staff welcomed 30 new players to campus for the start of two-a-days.

The group of newcomers went through a series of orientation sessions during the afternoon. They will take to the field on Saturday for the first of two days of two-a-day practices prior to the arrival of the varsity squad.

"We are excited to get these guys on campus and get started with preparations for this season," Herd head coach Bob Pruett said. "These two days of practices with the new guys will give us some ideas as to what they bring to the table, but the real tests will begin with the varsity players get here on Tuesday."

DaMarcus Thomas had an easy answer when asked why he chose Marshall -even though he hadn't attended a Marshall game in-person- over other schools: "Championships," was Thomas' one-word answer. "I've never won one in high school. Marshall's won what...four in the last four years?"

"I'm going for the 'sure thing'."

The first-year Herd players will practice Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and again on Monday at the same times. Sunday will be an off day and Tuesday will include more orientation sessions.

Incoming wide receiver Kendrick Starling, a junior college transfer, did not attend the orientation sessions. Starling, according to Marshall coaches, is finishing up a summer course in Texas, and will join the team in Huntington once his classwork is finished.

The full squad will hold it's first practice session on Thursday, August 9, at 8:30 a.m.

Quote of The Day:

"Hey, I'll get back there and kick it, if that's what coach wants me to do."-- Marshall senior all-purpose player (linebacker/running back) Trod Buggs, when asked whether he knew if he would play offense, defense, or both in the upcoming 2001 season.

Note: Marshall Sports Information Director Ricky Hazel contributed to this story. Thanks, Ricky!

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