Marshall will work out in shorts, jerseys and helmets for three days: today, Saturday and Sunday, and the latter two practices are open to the public. The Herd will work on academic concerns and meet the media on Friday, and the fans are also invited to join reporters and photographers on the field at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening. Practice on Saturday and Sunday will be around 3:15 p.m., then another practice will be opened on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 3:15 p.m. for the first day of full pads. Marshall also ran its fitness test earlier today and according to Snyder was nearly perfect.
"We had the best that we have had," said Snyder. "95 percent. Being in helmets helped today, without all that garb, made it a little easier but it was a good, tough, physical first day." Snyder was also excited to see many more players on the field, with the influx of freshmen and other first-year players. "It's nice to see bodies out there," said Snyder. "It looked very promising. They are young but we've got some numbers."
Even on the first day, there were some players in blue, or injury, jerseys. Travius Thompson, a receiver who had to sit during the 2006-07 year, was sidelined as was true freshman defensive back T.J. Drakeford and junior defensive end Bradley Roberts. "Precautionary," said Snyder of Thompson. "I'd rather have him out the first day and Saturday to have him the rest of the way. It's a little tweak of his hamstring, no sense in trying to kill him today. Darius (Passmore), he has a little tweak and needs about a week to heal so we got a little bit out of him today then pulled him late."
A lineman who many did not expect to see was senior guard David Ziegler, who has had a number of shoulder injuries. Ziegler was with the linemen today, but running second team behind red-shirt freshman Josh Evans who ran first team all spring with the two-year starter out. "Zig is second team, he's healthy," said Snyder. "I feel good about Ziegler too, he might work his way back up. There are no jobs secure here. Again, no job is secure so we moved Matt Altobello to guard (with the ones) and moved Brian Leggett to second-team center, and Brian may go back, but for now it is what it is."
It was a welcome to college football day for many of the Herd freshmen, out on the field for the first time with teammates, coaches and media. Some wide-eyes were seen, especially when the freshmen punters were put to the test early in the two-hour practice, but Jake Field (who kicked in the spring after junior Marty Biagi was hurt) and Cody Ochoa, from Bridgewater, Va., settled down and punted pretty well. "The same with about all those freshmen, almost to a man, but once they got over you guys being out here, and their teammates, they settled down a little bit," said Snyder. "First it was the punters, then the running backs, then the young DBs, but that's the fun of this, seeing them now and then writing about them in magazines four years from now."
Gone from the spring roster are: receivers William Barber, Marcus Broadwater and Odiamehi Oziegbe; tight ends David Redick and Nick Newell; and running back Darius Lewis. True freshmen include: running backs Terrell Edwards, Robert Henry and Darius Marshall; receiver Seth Oskin and Stuart Lips; quarterbacks Mark Cann and Chris Smith; linemen C.J. Wood, Scott Gray, Kyle Carter, John Bruhin, Branden Curry, Sergio Glenn and Ryan Tillman; tight end Hunter Hamrick; defensive linemen DeMetrius Thompson, Johnny Jones, Shane Moore and Vinny Curry; linebackers Kellen Harris, Corey Hart and B.J. Evans; defensive backs DeQuan Bembry, Drakeford, Tyler Torlone; punter Calvin Purchase and Ochoa; and long snapper Jeremy James. Also joining the squad are linebackers Antwan Booker and Mario Harvey and quarterback Jonathan Garner, a transfer from Georgia Tech. Senior Kyle Echols has moved from running back to receiver and Eric Vint was running at guard instead of tackle in today's practice.
There was one big hit, even without pads. Passmore torched cornerback Kevin Perry during seven-on-seven with a long touchdown from Bernard Morris. During team, Perry "clothslined" Passmore on a sweep near the end zone, nearly de-cleating the wide out. Micah Carter of Beckley Woodrow Wilson will not join the Herd this season on the field, as he will have to have surgery on his right ankle. Carter is enrolled and will attend classes this fall, hoping to join the Herd for spring 2008 drills.