Jake Fields, the punter from Hurricane via Hargrave Military, got off some much better kicks in punt drills with a best of 48 yards. Anthony Binswanger continued his strong place-kicking and nailed all kickoffs inside the five, including one seven yards deep in the end zone. Transfer quarterback Jonathan Garner was working in full pads after spending the weekend back at Daytona Beach at the funeral of a close friend. The Herd coaches continued to move players around, trying different roles for the younger players as they try to get a handle on the positions they can best help the Herd.
"We flopped some players," said Snyder of the moves, including D.J. Wingate to corner, Kevin Perry to safety and Brandon Campbell to guard. "We are still in the evaluation process of camp. Just mix and match them, but just one practice...not so good. They are trying and learning." Snyder also thought his team had a really good practice after two on Wednesday as the hot, humid weather continued. "We only had one today, and that helped. It cooled down a bit at the end, but it was hot the first half of practice. This is good for us, but it is hot."
Snyder spoke at length about junior college receiver Darius Passmore, who has shown good speed and good hands in his first workouts as a member of the Thundering Herd. Passmore, who joined the Herd in the spring from the College of the Sequouias, was scheduled to join the team in 2006, but some academic holdups kept him away until Spring Football. "He has a chance to have a good year, he is a good player," said Snyder. "He's fast, he is catching the ball better and starting to block a little bit. He continues to improve." Another junior college transfer is safety Aaron Johnson, who has looked better with each practice and is running with the ones and twos as safeties coach Shannon Morrison searches for his best pair of starters, both individually and how they work as a pair. Johnson came to the Herd from San Francisco Community College. "He is doing a good job too, looking better with each practice. He has a good work ethic, he had a great summer and came back in great shape."
In the past, Marshall has had somewhat spotty success with junior college players. Snyder said there is a formula for recruiting need players like Passmore, Johnson, Montel Glasco and Ryland Wilson, who are all probable starters on this year's team. "When you go recruiting junior college players, you really have to do your homework. You have to ask the hard questions. Some folks just go recruiting, but most of these players are at a junior college for a reason. Then you sit down with your staff and see if these players are worth taking on. We will try not to take a kid out of junior college who is not a good kid, who doesn't have good work habits, all these things have to be in place.
"Passmore seemed like a good kid," said Snyder of the young man who has endured a tough time in his youth. "It's a long story, but the bottom line is this: he went out to that junior college, didn't make it last year and really had to bare down. So, we had another year to stay in contact with him, trade e-mails with him and you could see a maturity and appreciation to have the opportunity (at Marshall). You guys see what a good player he is, his humility, and he brings to the table something we need badly around here at wide out. That's a pretty good combination. If a quarterback overthrows him, he goes back to the huddle and doesn't say a word. I'd be mad if they missed me."
On the injury side, Snyder said, once again, this is part of football. "I don't want to bring a player back too fast. Then he gets injured again, and you are in to game week getting him back. The good news was T.J. Drakeford and J.J. Johnson returned to practice at cornerback today and we got Taravis on the field. I'd rather be cautious now and play the young guys, get them some reps." Looking up an article on the Herd Insider web site from last season's August camp, Marshall had about the same number of players sidelined as they do this year, and Snyder said it will always be that way but fans tend to obsess over each bump and bruise. "Injuries are part of football," said Snyder. "It's that way everywhere. It's football, it's football...they are going to get hurt and it's my job to get them back for game week, that's our goal. You've got to work your trade, and the way you work it is by tackling and bodies flying. This is not tennis." The Herd hopes to get Glasco and Johnny Jones back for the scrimmage Saturday on the defensive line, and some more players by Monday after they have almost 48 hours off after Saturday's closed scrimmage.
NOTES:The Herd will have practices open the public on Friday at 9:40 a.m. and 5 p.m., but with one bit of warning for fans. Mark Gale, the Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations at Marshall, had to have his staff, or go himself, into the stands on nearly a half-dozen occasions at Thursday's practice to stop fans from using recording devices. Some were taking pictures with cameras and cell phones, while one was actually describing practice into a recorder. If this type of behavior from fans at MU practices, one of a small and select group in the nation who actually allowed into a Division I practice, continues at the open practices, it will force the closure of practice of any kind to fans of the Herd on what could be a permanent basis...For the second consecutive day, members of the athletic staff at Marshall in the Henderson Center were dealing with no air conditioning, in a building that has no windows to open. Some left early per their supervisors, while others commented on how cool and comfortable the 80-degree press area felt during Thursday's practice...Once again, the quarterbacks took turns and had more positives than negatives in team. Bernard Morris threw a bullet to a slashing Courney Edmonson across the middle to pull out a 20-yard gain and first down on third-and-eight at the seven-yard line...Mark Cann showed his arm strength by thowing a "clothesline" pass on an out, but showed he is a freshman by drilling defensive end DeMetius Thompson in the chest, which the walk-on from Capital High School returned for a 60-yard touchdown and showed good speed...Montel Glasco was working with the defensive line once again, but his contact was limited to save him for Saturday's scrimmage...Matt Parkhurst worked at tight end some on Thursday, his original position before moving to fullback. Stepping up at fullback was true freshman Robert Henry...Brian Anderson continues to look like the second-team quarterback for the Herd this fall. "He doesn't make the same mistake twice," offensive coordinator Larry Kueck has repeatedly told media members about Anderson's ability to learn from film sessions...Chad Schoefield took some reps with the ones at guard on Thursday...Antwan Booker seems to be fitting in quickly in Steve Dunlap's defense. The sophomore was seen making big hits and getting to the ball downfield...Returning starting guard David Ziegler was sporting a "buzz" cut hairstyle on Thursday, a real departure from his three years of long, fuzzy hair that hung low out the back of his helmet.
OTHER INFO: As the football team took the field around 3 p.m., the men's basketball team was finishing day two of workouts on the FieldTurf at the stadium. The cagers were running the ladders, pulling against the tension of elastic straps and running the stadium steps to get ready for Coach Donnie Jones' first season at the helm of the Herd program. Reportedly, the team is in the best shape in years, and sophomore 7-foot center Robbie Jackson is reportedly down to around 250 pounds...Coach Darren Tillis will join the Insider Sportsline/Insider Statewide shows next Tuesday in Barboursville at Cameo Photography and the law offices of Bailey and Howard, and may be joined by Coach Jones, who spent the past 10 days at Myrtle Beach. On August 21, Jones will join the shows, heard on WRVC 930 AM in Huntington (and soon to have a new affiliate in Charleston, hopefully) at G.D. Ritzy's in Huntington. The show is on ESPN Radio in the Tri-State daily from 4-6 p.m...Paint the Capital City Green is next Wednesday, August 15, at the Embassy Suites in Charleston. Marshall's ticket office will have a "Choose-A-Seat" promotion at the stadium on August 18, while the MU Football Women's Clinic is scheduled in the Big Green Room of the stadium on August 23, call Mark Gale at 304-696-2408 for information on the event and check out www.Herdzone.com for information on all Marshall events.