2014 Defensive Line

Winter is about over, and with that bring spring practice. The players currently on campus are working out with the strength and conditioning coaches and putting in time in mat drills, and other exciting early morning workouts. As of now, attrition is low, as the Herd has only lost offensive back ups Blake Frohnapfel and Jazz King.

In recent articles, Herdhaven.com broke down where many of the offensive signees from the class of 2014 should fall into in regards to the depth chart this upcoming fall. Today, we will take a look at the defensive front.

Marshall only loses two players from last years defensive line, and only one played significant minutes. Alex Bazzie was fourth on the team in tackles with 66. He also had 13 tackles for loss. The other departure was senior Jeremiah Taylor who was hurt early on in the year and made a miraculous comeback to play in the Military Bowl against Maryland.

What the Herd does return is a plethora of talent at both the inside and outside positions. James Rouse was just awarded a sixth season of eligibility due to injuries. Last season Rouse had just 39 tackles, however 14 were tackles for loss, 6 of which were sacks. He also had 5 quarterback hurries and a blocked kick.

Ra'shawde Myers also returns, while Rouse is a tackle, Myers is a defensive end and put up 51 tackles last season. Myers also had 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 of which were sacks, and an interception.

Also on the outside, at defensive end, Gary Thompson who will be a sophomore, made a big splash last year in his freshman campaign. Thompson ended the year with just 30 tackles. However, he had 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 7 quarterback hurried and two interceptions. Thompson proved to be a big play maker on defense for the Herd. Senior Arnold Blackmon is the other defensive end returning with playing time. Blackmon ended the year strong, finishing up with 20 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble.

Other defensive ends returning are Armonze Daniel, Marcus Gilchrist and Joe Massaquoi. Gilchrist and Massaquoi also could play tackle as well. Miami transfer Ricardo Williams expects to step in and make a big impact for the Herd in 2014 after setting out this past season.

Along with Rouse, the defensive tackle position will be manned by redshirt juniors Steve Dillon and Jarquez Samuel. Both Dillon and Samuel saw plenty of minutes last season. Dillon ended the year with 25 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, while Samuel ended with 24 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Both will play plenty of minutes this season. Former Clemson signee Josh Brown finally got on the field last year after setting out the previous season. The large defensive tackle made 17 tackles and a sack in late game action.

The class of 201 saw Marshall sign five defensive lineman. Let's take a look and see where they project this season.

Ryan Bee was an offensive and defensive lineman in High school. At 6'7", 255 pounds it is easy to see why defensive coordinator Chuck Heater wants him along the defensive front. His arm span would cause havoc for opposing quarterbacks as they search for throwing lanes. Early projections should show Bee getting a chance to play as a true freshman, however, with the experience returning across the line, it will take a great summer camp to make that happen.

Three star defensive tackle Nyquan Harris, at 6'3", 285 pounds is your prototypical defensive tackle. Harris is a mean, gritty competitor who should provide the Herd with depth early on if needed. Harris will most likely redshirt, due to the return of Rouse, but things could change and the Herd would not miss a beat if Harris was forced into early action.

Fellow three star defensive tackle Tomell One is another big body. One, a 6'3", 271 pounder from Palm Bay, Florida needs to put on a little bit more weight to move inside in Heater's system. One would assume that One would redshirt, but his toughness as a wrestler could enable him to move into the depth chart as summer progresses.

Fellow two star defensive ends Jason Smith and Malik Thompson, both prep school players are on campus in Huntington attending classes now. The two were mid year enrollees which should allow them to have a leg up on the other kids arriving in June. Thompson has the ability to be a special defensive end. He has tremendous upside with his 6'6", nearly 250 pound body.

Herdhaven.com's projected two deep heading into the opener at Miami of Ohio:

Defensive End – Myers and Thompson
Defensive End – Williams and Blackmon
Defensive Tackle – Rouse and Samuel
Defensive Tackle – Dillon and Brown

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com as we continue to look at the impact of the class of 2014 and what we expect of them in the coming season.

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