Looking Back: 1980 Recruiting Class
Thirty five years ago the Marshall Thundering Herd was coming off of a season which included just one win in eleven games. It was the first season for Head Coach Sonny Randle. Marshall had never won or tied a game in the Southern Conference and was in the midst of some of the worse football in school history.
Putting together a solid recruiting class to come and play in the now dilapidated Fairfield Stadium could not have been easy. Still, Randle had to retool this program. The class that he would put together in 1980 may not have been the foundation for the uprising which would begin just four years later, but it definitely was a big help.
Randle would get twenty one student athletes to sign with the Marshall football program that off season.
For a complete list, see here 1980 Recruiting Class.
Among those that would sign with the Herd were a few standouts that produced for the program over the following seasons.
The most notable member of the class would be running back Larry Fourquerean from Low Moor, Virginia. The 5’10”, 185 pound running back came to Marshall and played almost immediately. His production his freshman year was minimal, but his sophomore and senior seasons saw Fourquerean lead the Herd in rushing attempts and yards. He would finish his career with 2,232 total rushing yards. This puts him comfortably in the top 20 all time rushers at Marshall.
Quarterback Tony Konopka from Pittsburgh, PA was a small quarterback by today’s standards. He stood just 5’11” and weighed only 170 pounds. Actually smaller than the most recent Marshall superstar, Rakeem Cato. Konopka would actually lead the Herd in passing his freshman season. He completed just 55 out of 131 passes for 605 yards. He threw three touchdowns and thirteen interceptions. He would be replaced the next year by Ted Carpenter for two years, then Carl Fodor would take over and begin a long line of Marshall superstar quarterbacks.
Tony Stott, a wide receiver from Potomac, Maryland led the Herd in receiving his junior season, 1982. He hauled in 36 catches for 549 yards.
Terry Echols came to Marshall as a 6’1”, 205 pound running back from Corrine, West Virginia. However, this would not be the position, or positions in which Echols would excel. Echols led the Herd in tackling points in 1983. He also was the Herd punter in 1980 and 1981.
Then there is kicker Barry Childers. Childers was just 5’8”, 150 pounds from Clifton Forge, Virginia. Childers was not the best kicker in school history but most older Herd fans know all about Childers due to just one kick. The date was October 25th, 1980. Marshall trailed Western Carolina on the road 13 to 10. The Herd had lost every game it had played the past three and half seasons in the Southern Conference. Childers lined up for a 59 yard field go. He drilled it. The kick stands as the longest kick in Marshall history, and at the time was tied for the longest kick in the history of NCAA football by a freshman. Childers would lead the Herd in scoring that freshman season with 51 points. That was the peak of his career.
How would this class have been rated in todays system? One would guess it would be low due to the previous lack of success within the program. Who was the Devon Johnson of this class, the player who came out of nowhere and performed at a high level. Conversely, who was the Paul O’Hara of this class, that highly touted incoming freshman who never was able to get on the field.
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