Signees Expected to Contribute

Marshall is coming off a very successful Conference USA football season. The season consisted of just one regular season loss, to Middle Tennessee State on the last play of the game, before a disappointing CUSA championship game loss on the road at Rice. That loss did not diminish what was an excellent season both on the scoreboard and in the stat book.

Marshall finished the season with lofty rankings in virtually all offensive categories. The Herd had players Rakeem Cato, Tommy Shuler and Gator Hoskins rank high in virtually all categories. As an offensive unit the numbers were just as impressive. Marshall finished first in the conference in scoring at 42.1 points per game. The Herd also finished first in total offense at 500.4 yards per game. Showing balance, Marshall finished second in both rushing and passing offense at 205.9 yards, and 294.5 yards per game respectively.

Going in to the offseason, Marshall appeared to be set to continue the success of 2013 season, and didn't appear to need much help on the offensive side of the ball. However, after taking a good look at the returning players, it is easy to see why the Herd staff took so many skill position players with this class.

Beginning today Herdhaven.com will take a look at each position and see where the signees factor in, in regards to the roster and depth chart. We will start out today with the offensive skill position players, Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver and Tight End.

Marshall returns only three scholarship quarterbacks. Granted, one of those is returning CUSA player of the year Rakeem Cato. Marshall also returns redshirt sophomore to be, Gunnar Holcombe, and redshirt freshman Kevin Anderson. Marshall welcomes freshman quarterback Cole Garvin to the mix. Garvin signed with the Herd last week and was already on campus and enrolled in class. Garvin expects to contend for the back up quarterback position right from the beginning. This due to the recent departure of back up quarterback Blake Frohnapfel, who transferred to UMASS. The question remains, will Garvin impress enough to earn snaps as a true freshman and burn a redshirt. Garvin's early arrival and ability to participate in spring practice should make this a possibility if he impresses enough.

Moving to the running back position, the Herd loses leading rusher Essray Taliaferro and junior Kevin Grooms' status is still up in the air. Marshall returns juniors Remi Watson and Steward Butler. Both were in and out of the lineup last season due to reasons such as injuries, turnovers, and being in the dog house. Grooms is also rumored to be able to return, the former All CUSA freshman of the year would be a huge get if he does return.

Marshall went out and recruited a plethora of talent at the running back position. Already on campus, setting out last season due to academics is two star running backs Tony Pittman and Brandon Byrd. Pittman is a bigger running back who by all accounts, runs mad all the time. Byrd is an excellent athlete. Marshall also added a running back in the most recent class of signees. Three star running back Keion Davis. The coaching staff had nothing but great things to say about the ability of Davis. Davis is big and is very fast. Davis very well could factor into the depth chart immediately upon his arrival. Davis is a three star safety, per scout.com, which should show how much the staff respects his ability as a running back if they are willing to switch him over.

The Herd loses all everything tight end, Gator Hoskins. Marshall will have some solid depth at that position in senior Eric Frohnapfel, and junior Devon Johnson. Johnson is very similar to Hoskins in that he is big, fast, and very strong. Marshall also brings in former four star, and current three star tight end Deontay McManus. McManus originally signed with West Virginia before landing in Huntington. McManus enrolled last January, and due to grades was able to practice during bowl work outs this past December. McManus hit the field running and most coaches and players insist he is ready right now to be the next Gator Hoskins.

Marshall also inked a letter of intent from two star tight end Ryan Yurachek. Yurachek, due to the talent ahead of him, should see a redshirt his freshman year, but Doc Holliday has shown in the past, that the best players will play, regardless of class. Reference back to the 2013 campaign when two star Tyquan Lang took over at safety for former four star safety D.J. Hunter.

Tommy Shuler was the go to receiver for Rakeem Cato last season. However, Marshall has lost Aaron Dobson, Antavious Wilson and Devon Smith due to graduation the last two years. Jazz King transferred out of the program, leaving Marshall with just 7 scholarship wide outs on the roster from last season. Other than senior Craig Wilkins (32 catches, 408 yards and 2 TD's) Marshall returns very little. Senior Demetrius Evans (19, 134, 1 TD),junior Davonte Allen (9, 163 and 2 TD's), Junior DeAndre Reaves (6 for 42), and sophomore Justin Hunt (2 for 48, and 1 TD) make up the rest of the depth chart with production from last season. Sophomore Josh Knight and sophomore Chris Alston Jr also return.

Clearly there was a need for wide receivers. The Marshall staff did not disappoint. Already on campus is four star wide receiver Angelo Jean Louis. Jean Louis expects to step in immediately and play at the outside receiver position. Marshall also welcomes three star Emanuel Beal. Beal chose the Herd over multiple BCS schools, and has the build to come in and help Marshall immediately. Two star athlete Hyleck Foster has a chance to come in and back up Tommy Shuler at the slot position. All Foster knows how to do is score touchdowns, as he put up gaudy stats in Gaffney, South Carolina. Also vying for playing time at the slot position will be Donquell "Gator" Green from Georgia. Green is built a lot like Devon Smith who made multiple big plays throughout the year for the Herd.

Two other receivers signed by the Herd also hail from Georgia. Both players are two star wideouts who recruiting coordinator Todd Hartley says have tremendous upside and are much better than their ranking. Cason, at 6'3", is said to have a body similar to Aaron Dobson and could be a threat to play outside early on in his career. Reese Wooten, from Cairo Georgia, per Hartley, " can fly, and he catches everything, has great hands."

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com throughout the week as we focus on the where other signees factor in with the current Herd roster and depth chart.

Herd Haven Top Stories