15 Days And Counting

Two weeks from today, across the country, fans will be prepping for their first tailgate of the season the following morning. That’s right football fans, fifteen days remain until most of the country tees it up and begins play for the 2014 season.

As we have been doing here at Herdhaven.com the past few months, we have been counting down the days until kickoff by looking at our current players as well as years from years past based on the number of days left until kickoff.

The 2014 season will see the Herd line up a plethora of wide receivers. One of those wide receivers will be number fifteen Angelo Jean Louis. Jean Louis is the highest rated recruit in school history. Jean Louis, going into his senior year at Palm Beach Central High School in Florida, was a four star wide receiver. Scout.com had him rated the 35th best wide receiver in the country and the 230th best player overall. After not qualifying he went to Fork Union Military Academy where he chose to play for the Herd. Coming out of prep school he remained a four star recruit.

Even after heading to prep school, Jean Louis was being recruited, and offered by Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, West Virginia and Tennessee just to name a few. He chose the Herd, enrolled in January of 2013. He would be ineligible for two semesters. After doing well in the class room, Jean Louis became eligible for the Herd last December and actually got to practice in bowl preparation. Many who watched the practices said he was ready to step in and play immediately.

When he suited up this past spring, that prediction was more than lived up to. Jean Louis moved straight up the depth chart and spring ended with him battling Davonte Allen and Craig Wilkins for a starting spot. As fall camp began in August, he immediately started where he left off. Jean Louis is fast and has great hands, but his athletic ability is uncanny. Currently, Jean Louis is in the starting lineup, but the wide receiver position will be very fluid throughout the season as the Herd runs multiple talented wide outs out onto the field at any given time.

Jean Louis is a 6’0”, 185 pound wide receiver with 4.5 speed.

Now let’s go way back in time to the 1915 football season. Head Coach Boyd Chambers led the Herd into battle. His team captain on the field was Bradley Workman. Workman and Chambers were unable to motivate the squad early on in the season as Marshall College got off to a very poor 0 – 7 start. In those 7 games the Herd scored just 19 points, in fact Marshall scored only 80 points in the entire season.

Sixty one of the 80 points came in a game against Kentucky Wesleyan. You may remember that in the next season, 1916, Marshall would defeat Kentucky Wesleyan 101 – 0. In 1915 Marshall won 61 to 7. The two teams would take a few seasons off, one of the reasons being World War I, before Marshall would win again 33 – 0, then lose the following year 13 – 0.

In those first seven games, Marshall lost badly to nearly everyone. One of those defeats was a 92 to 6 pounding at the hands of instate West Virginia. Marshall’s only touchdown came on the famous “Tower Pass.” Coach Boyd Chambers called the play where a wide receiver climbed up the back of a teammate and caught a high towering pass. The following year that particular play was banned by college football and no longer allowed to be used.

Fifteen years ago the Marshall Thundering Herd literally Thundered onto the college football scene. The Herd rumbled through the year being tested only three times, first by Clemson, then Kent State, then Western Michigan in what was at that time one of the greatest comebacks in Herd history, until 2001 that is. More on that another day.

Marshall was led by Head Coach Bobby Pruett. The team captains was a group of former NFL football players in Rogers Beckett, Chad Pennington, Doug Chapman, Andre O’Neal, Girardi Mercer, and Jason Starkey as well as Mike Guilliams and Canadian Football Star John Grace. The team was loaded on both sides of the football.

Marshall opened the season in Death Valley against Clemson. It was hot and the Herd came in ready to play. Chad Pennington would end the day with 333 passing yards, and Doug Chapman would only end up with 47 yards, but the last seven yards were huge as he willed his way into the endzone for the go ahead and winning touchdown. Most Marshall fans will tell you the final drive was about 130 yards due to penalty after penalty, however it ended up being an 11 play 76 yard drive into history for the Herd.

Clemson would miss a late field goal, and Marshall would kneel the ball to close out arguably the biggest win in school history. In the small world department, a good friend and Marshall fan who lives in the Greenville, SC area recently met a relative of kicker Chris Campbell. The topic has never been brought up in the midst of many, many conversations. Campbell was a local kicker from Clemson.

Marshall would move on to win every game of the regular season, struggling only to a 28 to 16 win on the road in front of an empty stadium at Kent State. Then the Mid American Conference Championship game began. Marshall with an 11 – 0 record, met Western Michigan in Huntington. Even with the perfect record, the Herd would need to win the game to go to a bowl game. Marshall trailed in the third quarter 20 to 0, before storming back to take the lead. Western would answer which would set up another famous drive led by Pennington.

Marshall would score with seven seconds to go on a third down pass from Pennington to Eric Pinkerton, his first touchdown of his career. Marshall would win the game 34 to 30 and move on to the Motor City Bowl where they would play BYU. The Herd would win 21 to 3, and finish the year ranked number 10 in the country. In today’s world, that would have meant a trip to a big bowl game. This is also where the 1998 loss at Bowling Green played a factor. Had the Herd won that game, they would have had a 25 game winning streak and possibly been ranked high enough to garner more bowl attention.

Instead, Marshall fans were left celebrating in Detroit, and many fans were left wiping away a tear as Pennington embraced Chapman in the backfield one final time. After that, Pennington and the rest of the prominent seniors, locked hands, and walked off the field one final time, together, as the greatest team in Herd History.

Flash forward 15 year. Rakeem Cato and Tommy Shuler, long time friends since youth league football, have a chance to walk off the field in the same fashion.

Time will tell for this group, the talent is there, the coaching is there, and the drive is there, the only thing to do now is wait and play each game one at a time.

That quest begins in Oxford, Ohio, in just fifteen long days.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates.

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