Notes From The First Week of Football Practice

After only four practices in this 2002 spring practice session, and already there's a few details about this Marshall football team worth mentioning. For those of you who cannot make it to practice, here's my thoughts on who -and what- is happening in spring practice. For Club members only!

Jason Rader, Freak of Nature: That will be the title of the big tight end's autobiography/movie-of-the-week, when the time comes. If there were any questions about the Georgia transfer's abilities before spring drills began, they have all been answered in the first four days.

Rader is huge, one of only 3 players who can stand eye-to-eye with QB Byron Leftwich on the field. Rader is quicker than a 6-4 (right...he's 6-6 easily) guy should be. He runs routes like a wide receiver. Rader can catch any ball within 15 feet of him. He is the real deal, folks.

Moriah Anderson likes to hit. Hard. The sophomore free safety dropped walk-on running back Lorenzo Freeman like a bad habit on Thursday.

Byron Leftwich will make his spring practice debut this coming Tuesday, after a couple weeks off. Leftwich had a tiny screw inserted in his lower shin/ankle region, a very, VERY minor surgery. In fact, the scar from it is barely noticeable. Leftwich will not miss a beat on his return, in case you were wondering. From here on out, the adjective 'Bionic' will be appropo in front of Byron's name.

Defense. After a less-than-stellar 2001 defensive performance, look for Marshall's D unit to be somewhat quicker in 2002. Yes, there are youngsters everywhere, but they are all experienced youngsters. LB Kevin Atkins and FS Moriah Anderson will make some noise in the fall.

Former running back Marcus Hairston is going to make a fine defensive end. The 6-2, 231-pounder is new to the position, but is showing that his physical abilities are a force to be reckoned with. Give Hairston the spring and summertime to get the defensive scheme playbook down, and don't be surprised to see him on the field at gametime in 2002.

Marcus Hairston used to be a running back, but is now a defensive end.

The absolute best part of practice is the session called "Hookups", which features 1/2 of the first and second team offensive and defensive lines going full-speed against one another. The QBs and RBs are involved, as all plays are running plays. However, the drill is designed to sharpen the linemen, and boy, does it ever. The matchups are very physical, very vocal, and full of hard hits. Do not miss this if you come to practice. You'll know when it's going on by the sound of pads cracking.

And finally… keep an eye on MU's running backs. If injuries are avoided, we may get to finally see the 'Three Headed Monster' we were promised in 2001. As of this writing, all three (Wallace, Carey, and Rodgers) were healthy and running hard.

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