A Look Back at the Class of '11

The 2011 recruiting class at Marshall very well could go down as one of the best ever in school history. The class was loaded with three star athletes from the top to the bottom. Just how good was the class of 2011, one has to look no farther than the starting lineup throughout the 2013 season, one in which saw the Herd win 10 games for the first time since 2002.

Seldom can a recruiting class that has fifteen players on it that are not even with the program, or never came to the program, be called one of the best ever, but the class of 2011 could be different. The players who have stuck with the program are just that good.

First a look at those that never came, or came and have since departed. Three star linebackers Deon Meadows and Robert Way both came to Marshall. Way lasted on season, and Meadows lasted two seasons. Three star tight end Rakim Reed lasted just one season, before leaving. Three star offensive tackle Jamar Lewter could be the "one that got away, " as the Herd enters the 2014 campaign looking for offensive tackles, and Lewter could have been that guy.

Defensive tackle/end, Robert Mincey, a three star big time prospect never panned out, nor did he arrive at Marshall. The most intriguing three star player that year could have been the transfer quarterback from Michigan, Conelius Jones. Jones participated in spring practice, and was placed at wide receiver. Jones could have filled the need at the outside receiver position this past season, which was one of the Herd's few offensive weaknesses.

Several other players have left the program. Anthony Spano left after two seasons, Dontae West, left after just one year. Offensive lineman Josue Joseph made it two seasons as did Stefone Grace. Shawn Samuels, arrived late, stayed one season, actually played, but has since left as well. Colin Munroe and Terry Franklin, two junior college transfers never made it to campus.

The most notable departure occurred earlier this year at the quarterback position. Back up quarterback, and fan favorite Blake Frohnapfel, announced that he would be transferring seeking playing time. Frohnapfel ended up landing at UMASS and will have two years to play.

Four other players are still on the team, and waiting to make an impact, WR Chris Alston Jr, DT Joe Massaquoi, DB Corie Wilson, and DE Armonze Daniel.

Also, of note, starting Maryland wide receiver, Levern Jacobs, was also a part of this class .

What makes this class so great is the remaining fifteen players.

The first group are players that are either contributors, or players that are on the verge of break out seasons. Linebacker Cortez Carter has played for three years, and has been a key part of special teams. Defensive back Keith Baxter started games on and off his first two seasons before missing all of last season due to an injury. Baxter will be back for two seasons, and expects to be a major defensive contributor.

The other three on the verge are all wide receivers. Davonte Allen, Craig Wilkins and DeAndre Reaves. All three players made plays or catches at one point or another last season that led to wins. All three made big plays in the seasons' final game, the Military Bowl win over Maryland. All three expect to be valuable members of the 2014 team as well.

The class also included a large number of what would be considered the teams' best players. On the defensive side of the ball starting linebackers Evan McKelvey and Jermaine Holmes were members of the 2011 recruiting class. Defensive tackles Steve Dillon and Jarquez Samuel were also an integral part of the the CUSA East division champsions. All four return for the 2014 season and should either start or get significant playing time.

The offensive side of the ball is where the bulk of the stars landed. The Marshall staff loaded up with skill position players. In addition to the aforementioned wide receivers, Allen, Wilkins and Reaves, Marshall also brought in Tommy Shuler. The undersized wide receiver from Miami Central High School will go down as one of the best, and most productive wide receivers in school history. That is saying a lot consider the school has seen such greats as Mike Barber, Troy Brown, Randy Moss, Josh Davis, Darius Watts and Aaron Dobson.

The "Baby Backs," were also a part of the 2011 class. Running Backs Remi Watson, Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms all came to the Herd and have flourished ever since. Although all three have had a few issues, they are very talented and all three should be back for the next two seasons. Grooms had some issues last season, but all indications show he should be back with the team to start the 2014 football season.

Tight End Eric Frohnapfel and his brother Blake both signed with Marshall in 2011. The brothers have been staples in the community and in front of the fan base since their arrival. Eric has stepped up and made multiple big plays throughout his career including a good game in a road win at Louisville and a huge diving catch in the bowl win over Maryland.

Then there is the leader of the group. The undersized, underappreciated, underrated quarterback from Miami. The same school that produced Shuler, also sent their quarterback North, Rakeem Cato. Cato stepped in and started as a true freshman. He led the Herd to the big win at Louisville, a bowl win over FIU (the team he first committed too), and even bigger wins down the road against ECU and finally against Maryland. Along the way, Cato has put himself in a position to break nearly all of the Marshall passing records, more on that to come.

The class of 2011 was a class full of disappointment, but, on the other hand, it will go down as the class that brought some of the best talent in school history, including two players that could go down as the most productive players at their positions in school history. The class was just Doc Holliday's second class, but it was his first that he was able to work a full year on, and the results were tremendous.

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