The good new was Mandell Smith, the highly-touted wide receiver from Holmes Community College in Mississippi, finally got his paperwork and hit the field with MU this morning. He will have four practices, just like the rest of the squad had, without full pads but he ran route and participated in team drills with the second team. In fact, he was seen blocking downfield on a running play despite only having on a helmet and shorts.
The defense is ahead of the offense, as expected in the early practices of August. Making plays in the backfield in team were Jonathan Goddard, Garrett Morrison and freshmen Bilal El-Amin and Jason Kaminski. Willie Smith broke up numberous passes and Chris Royal had an interception.
Not to say there were not any offensive stars. Doug Legursky continues to impress onlookers, as does Miami transfer Zac Elcess. Both are currently running at center but you could see Elcess moved to guard, where he started at Miami, or even at tackle. Emanuel Spann continues to show great maturity as he runs with the first team while Smith has sat waiting on transcripts and Shawn Lauzon, who returned in a yellow jersey today, sat with injury. Best of all might be the deepest backfield at Marshall since: 1)Jackie Hunt (MU's number 4 rusher all time), "Boot" Elkins, Jack Morlock and Andy D'Antoni shared the backfield in Cam Henderson's single-wing attack in 1939 & 1940-all but D'Antoni were drafted by the NFL; 2)since Andy Socha (#15 at MU), Jack Mahone (#12 at MU) and Mickey Jackson (#18 at MU) shared the backfield for the 7-3, 1964 Thundering Herd; or 3)since Orlando Hatchett (#10), Glenn Pedro (#6), Chris Parker (#1 all-time for Herd and three-year member of Jax Jaguars) and Johnnie McKee were playing in the backfield for the 1992 National Championship team.
"We got some great young kids," said runnings back coach Ernie Purnsley following the morning practice. "It is a great group to coach." Chief among those today were returning starter Earl Charles, who took a swing pass from Stan Hill for a 50-yard gain. Ahmad Bradshaw, who joined the Herd at the last minute when things did not work out at the University of Virginia for the Graham HS star (in Bluefield, VA), took a off-tackle play, made a couple of moves in the middle of the field, then raced past numerous defenders who appeared to have the angle and out-ran those players to the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown. Donte' Newsome, who moved to running back from linebacker in the spring, had four or five nice runs and Gerwin Williams gained some tough yards over the center and guard on different plays.
Marshall goes on the grass at 4:30 p.m. today and only once on Sunday, scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Marshall is back on field for two practices on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the coming week, at 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 3:00 p.m. MU will scrimmage next Saturday, tba.