Way Too Early Look at the 2015 Defense

Last week Herdhaven.com looked forward to what the 2015 Offensive depth chart could look like. What it showed was a team that should be just as deep on that side of the ball next year as it is this season. When looking at the defense, the Herd will lose four very important players that have brought the defense to an all new level this year.

The primary players being lost are defensive tackle James Rouse, linebackers Neville Hewitt and Jermaine Holmes and defensive back Darryl “Swag” Roberts. Rouse is a sixth year senior who was the preseason defensive player of the year in CUSA. The productivity numbers for Rouse do not appear to be All CUSA potential, but that is due to multiple double teams and only playing an average of 40 plays per game due to the Herd’s depth along the interior line.

The middle linebacker position has been manned by Jermaine Holmes for the past four seasons. Holmes, a former three star linebacker from Valdosta, Georgia played as a true freshman and hasn’t looked back since. However, this season, Hewitt, who was listed behind Holmes on the depth chart has battled him to a stalemate. Hewitt, arrived at Marshall from Junior College and has really emerged the past two weeks. He is currently listed as the starter.

The final big piece to the defensive puzzle that will be graduation is Darryl “Swag” Roberts. Roberts played as a true freshman, and then started as a sophomore before getting hurt and missing his third year. Luckily for the Herd, he had a redshirt season which allowed him to play two more seasons. Roberts has not disappointed and has started each game, as well as often being the defensive representative in regards to team captains.

Take a look back at Herdhaven.com Projected Offensive Deph Chart for 2015 in case you missed it , Herdhaven.com’s Way to Early Look at the 2015 Offensive Depth Chart.

See what fans were saying here Continue reading notes and discuss now at Fans Discuss the projected 2015 Offensive Depth Chart Here.

The defensive line position should be a big strength next season for the Herd.

The defensive tackle position in the 2015 season will be one of the best units on the team, and should be one of the top defensive end units in CUSA, and all of the non Power 5 conferences. Even though the unit will lose Rouse, it returns multiple talented options.

Seniors to be Jarquez Samuel and Steve Dillon return to anchor the middle. Samuel was another three star defensive player from Valdosta who came to Marshall at the same time as teammate Jermaine Holmes. Samuel did have to set out his first season due to being academically ineligible. Samuel has bounced back and been an integral part of the rotation ever since.

Senior Steve Dillon and Senior to be Ricardo Williams both came to Marshall with similar accolades. Dillon originally signed with Southern Cal before arriving in Huntington. Williams not only signed, but attended the University of Miami of Florida for two seasons before transferring to Marshall. The influx of Power five conference talent is one of the many reasons the defensive has improved so much in the past two years.

Two other players on the interior have seen meaningful reps thus far in the season along the line. True freshman Tomell One blasted onto the scene early, and Head Coach Doc Holliday realized it and multiple times spoke how he had to get One into the rotation. The second player to see some time is Joe Massaquoi. Massaquoi recently picked up his first career sack.

Other defensive tackles on the team are former Cabell Midland standout Ryan Riedel and Aaron Plant.

Nyquan Harris is setting out as a non qualifier this season and should be ready to go in the summer. Harris is on campus.

The defensive end position is another deep unit for Marshall in 2015. The one thing that jumps out is how deep that the unit will remain in 2016. The only player the Herd will lose due to exhausting eligibility following 2015 is Armonze Daniel. Daniel, though will be back to anchor that unit next season.

In addition to Daniel, the one time highly rated linebacker from Avon, Indiana, Marshall also returns big time player maker Gary Thompson. Thompson burst onto the scene during his freshman campaign in 2014, most notably in the de facto CUSA East championship game against East Carolina. Thompson had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.

Blake Keller, a transfer from UCF will be making his first appearance in game action in Green and White in 2015. Former potential Tennessee Vol, Jerome Dews also will be ready for a break out season. Dews is tall, skinny defensive end with a ton of speed. He has shown a ton of speed and potential off of the end.

Ryan Bee is a tall former offensive lineman who has been moved to the defensive end position. His size and length remind many of former Marshall and Denver Bronco draftee Paul Toviessi.

Jason Smith and Malik Thompson were two mid year 2013/2014 recruits who should be eligible to practice this winter a lot like Angelo Jean Louis and Deontay McManus did this season.

Marshall will also welcome Junior College transfer Jeremiah Mitchell to the team to provide immediate help. Mitchell is a two star recruit from Riverside, California. He has size and speed at 6’5”, 265 pounds. Mitchell could battle for a starting spot with the departures of Arnold Blackmon and Rashawde Myers.

Marshall’s deepest position, arguably, is linebacker. Marshall will lose seniors Neville Hewitt and Jermaine Holmes, but will return a plethora of big time talent. This group will be led by senior to be D.J. Hunter. Hunter came to Marshall as a safety and has moved to linebacker, then back to safety, and now back to linebacker. He has settled back in this year as a junior and should have a monster senior season.

In addition to Hunter coming back, Marshall also returns senior Evan McKelvey. McKelvey was having a very solid season. Playing limited snaps due to games that are being decided early in the first half, McKelvey is 5th on the team in tackles with 21. He also had 1.5 tackles for loss. McKelvey was taken off the field this past weekend at Old Dominion with an undisclosed injury. McKelvey has had a couple leg injuries already in his career.

One of the biggest surprises on the defensive side of the football has been freshman Raheim Huskey. Huskey, who was a non qualifier last season, has only six tackles thus far, however, he does have two big blocked kicks. One, this past weekend, was recovered by fellow freshman Brandon Byrd for a touchdown, giving the Herd a 28-0 lead.

Stephan Houston, a one time four star Maryland commit arrived at Marshall last year and immediately made a huge impact. This off season, Huskey, Hewitt and Holmes were able to move Houston down the depth chart, however, Houston bounced back this past weekend at Old Dominion and played a lot of snaps early. He ended the game with two tackles and was involved in a lot of plays in the backfield, and down the field.

Another linebacker in the class of 2012 for Maryland was Shawn Petty. Petty was the 150th ranked outside linebacker in the country coming out of high school, but is growing into a middle linebacker body. Petty transferred to Marshall this past summer but has been allowed to practice with the team.

Three star Kaleb Harris, from Norwayne High School in Creston, Ohio signed with Marshall this past February. The 6’4”, 200 pound athletic linebacker is being redshirted this season.

Marshall will welcome four freshman linebackers over the summer. Francisco Hernandez, one of the highest rated recruits in the Herd’s 2014 class out of Largo, Florida is at Marshall now as a non qualifier. All indications point to Hernandez being a impact player early and often. The other three coming in will be part of the 2015 class. Three star Ty Tyler is the 98th ranked outside linebacker in the country and is having a huge senior season at Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, Florida. In addition to Tyler are three star linebacker Marquis Couch and two star Sage Lewis. Couch is from Miami Central High School which has produced current Marshall stars Rakeem Cato and Tommy Shuler, and defensive back Donaldven Manning.

The one enigma out of this position is middle linebacker Kent Turene. Turene came to Marshall after originally signing and practicing with the University of Georgia. He was on the depth chart and competing alongside multiple current NFL linebackers. Turene had some issues in regards to eligibility and eventually made his way to Marshall. He sat out one season, he was actually a member of Georgia’s 2011 recruiting class along with Corey Tindal. He came out last season and was starting to make his way into the rotation, beginning with the Virginia Tech game. He suffered a season ending injury shortly after that and is still battling the same injury. Turene, if healthy, would be a major impact to this defense next year which already returns a ton of talent.

As is being seen with each position thus far, depth and returning talent is the name of the game on the defensive side of the ball for 2015. The defensive back/corner back position is no different. Marshall, after losing two starting defensive backs 2013, will only lose one this season. Granted, that loss is big with Darryl “Swag” Roberts, the current leader on the team in tackles, will exhaust his eligibility following the 2014 season. There is a ton of talent, however, behind Roberts. Marshall will return the other starting defensive back in junior to be Corey Tindal. The aforementioned Tindal was once a Georgia commit before coming to Marshall and starting as a nickel back last year as a freshman.

In addition to Tindal, Marshall also returns Keith Baxter. Baxter, the son of former Marshall wideout by the same name, has battled multiple injuries throughout his career. Will it be enough to grant him a sixth year, making him only a junior next season, remains to be seen. Coach Holliday loves his size and physical ability when he is healthy.

Antavis Rowe could be one of the biggest surprises of the 2014 recruiting class. Rowe came to Marshall over the summer and was lost, and was not physically ready. As has been noted by many outlets, he went home, spent a few weeks working out, came back to campus a different player and now enters game 6 of the season with having played nearly 300 snaps. He currently has 11 tackles on the season, one tackle for loss, one pass break up and a fumble recovery. Rowe will be a true sophomore next season.

Marshall also returns two other defensive backs with links to the Power 5 conferences. Donaldven Manning, mentioned earlier as being from Miami Central High School, will be back for his junior campaign. Manning should be able to work his way into the rotation. He was a former four star player who went to, and played at Virginia Tech. Michael Johnson is the other. Johnson will be a junior in 2015. Johnson originally committed to Florida State before flipping to Marshall prior to signing day.

Rodney Allen and Chocolate Wilson are the other two defensive backs on the current roster. Wilson was a non qualifier last year and will be a sophomore next year. Allen, also a non qualifier last year, came to this spot a different way. Allen started this season as a wide receiver and after being buried on the depth chart was moved to defense and has actually played a lot of snaps late in the games. Holliday loves his size, and he has great hands which fits into the mold of being a player that can cause turnovers. Allen has racked up 6 tackles, 2 pass breakups and recovered a fumble on the season.

Marshall currently has two corners committed to the 2015 recruiting class. Travis Amey, a two star from Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida has a reported 4.38 forty time. The second commit is three star Roosevelt Lawrence. Lawrence is a three star defensive back ranked as the 154th best DB in the nation. He is out of Alonso High School in Tampa, Florida.

The safety position is home to three of the Herd’s best tacklers in regards to numbers. A.J. Leggett, Taj Letman, and Tiquan Lang all return next season. Leggett and Lang will be juniors and Letman a senior. In addition to these three, Marshall also returns Senior to be Corie Wilson who is out with an injury this season.

Two members of the class of 2014 will make up the depth chart as well next season. One is LaDerrick Hammond who is redshirting this season, the other one, however, was the top rated signee from the class of 2014. Four star Kendall Gant.

Gant has already seen action in three games this season and has secreted three tackles. Gant’s size is exactly what the Herd will like to see at the safety position.

Like the offense is in the 2014 season the defense will be the unit with all the upperclassman next year.

Below is Herdhaven.com’s take on a potential depth chart for the 2015 season.

Defensive End:

Armonze Daniel
Ryan Bee

Defensive End:

Gary Thompson
Jeremiah Mitchell

Defensive Tackle:

Steve Dillon
Ricardo Williams

Defensive Tackle:

Jarquez Samuel
Tomell One


DJ Hunter
Shawn Petty


Evan McKelvey
Jerome Dews (I just don’t think he can be kept off of the football field)


Stephan Houston
Kent Turene

Defensive Back:

Corey Tindal
Antavis Rowe

Defensive Back:

Keith Baxter
Donaldven Manning


Taj Letman
Kendal Gant


AJ Leggett
Tiquan Lang

What do you think the 2015 Defensive Depth Chart could look like, See what other Marshall fans think here Marshall Fans’s Discuss the 2015 defense.

Stay tuned to Herdhaven.com for further updates and stories.

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