The Thundering Herd contingent is made up of Patriots wide receivers Troy Brown (a three-time Super Bowl champion already) and Randy Moss, punter Chris Hanson and tight end Jason Rader, who has spent the season with the Patriots' practice squad. Rookie running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who declared early for the NFL draft last year after leading C-USA in rushing and touchdowns, was taken in the seventh round and is a member of the Giants team. Bradshaw has had a very important part in the Giants 10-game road winning streak, including wins at Dallas and Green Bay in the playoffs. Moss was the top receiver with 23 touchdowns from Tom Brady this season, setting a NFL record in the process. Brown, in his 15th year with the Patriots after being drafted in the eighth round in 1993, was injured most of the season and active for only one game so far, although he hopes to dress for his fifth Super Bowl with the Pats. "That's up to other people besides me," Brown said on Friday while getting ready to go to Arizona. "It would be special." Hanson averaged over 40 yards per punt, while Rader has spent the season on the practice squad after stops with the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and NFL-Europe.
Marshall moved to Division 1-A status in football (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision) in 1997 when the Herd re-joined the MAC, leaving I-AA (Football Championship Subdivision) after posting a 15-0 perfect national title season in coach Bob Pruett's first season with Moss and Hanson on the team. Brown won a I-AA title in 1992 with a 12-3 Herd team for MU coach Jim Donnan, who recruited Hanson before going to Georgia. Mark Snyder, the current MU coach, coached Bradshaw for two seasons after Pruett brought the youngster in from Bluefield, Va., and Pruett also brought in Rader, who left Georgia when Donnan was fired after four consecutive bowl wins.
Marshall has produced 14 NFL draft picks and placed more than a dozen other players into the NFL via free agency since 1989, when Mike Barber went in the fourth round to the San Francisco 49ers and Sean Doctor went to the Buffalo Bills with the 6th round selection. Marshall has a history of placing players into championship games as well.
Heading that list is Frank "Gunner" Gatski, who starred for Marshall in 1941-42 before joining the U.S. Army for World War II. Gatski played in 11 championship games in 12 seasons and won eight titles, most of any non-kicker in the history of pro football. As a member of the Cleveland Browns, Gatski lined up beside fellow Marshall lineman Ed Ulinski for four straight All-American Football Conference titles including a perfect 14-0 in 1948. Ulinski retired as a player in 1950, when Gatski and the Browns won the NFL in the teams first year in the league. Ulinski re-joined the Browns as a coach in 1954, and he and Gatski collected NFL titles in 1954 and 1955. Gatski would win one more with the Detroit Lions in 1957, before becoming Marshall's only member of the NFL Hall of Fame, and Ulinski won another title with the Browns in 1964.
Along came the American Football League in 1960, and James Barton of the Herd was a member of the San Diego Chargers when they won the AFL in 1963. Except for Ulinski's title with the Browns the next year, it would be a long, dry spell for the Herd for title games. Mike Barber was almost a member of the 1989 San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl win as a rookie, but was traded to the Arizona Cardinals three weeks before the end of the regular season.
Tight end and long snapper Mike Bartrum (MU 1989-92) and Brown led the Herd back to the promised land when both were members of the New England Patriots, who lost the Super Bowl in 1996 to the Green Bay Packers. Ironically, Bartrum had been traded to the Pats from Green Bay in-season, and Brown did not dress for the championship game due to injury. Moss and the Minnesota Vikings were upset in his rookie season of 1998 by the Atlanta Falcons, who lost to the Denver Broncos. Troy Brown would then win the first of three championship rings with the Pats in 2001, then again in 2003 and 2004, the latter as the expense of his former New England and Marshall teammate, Bartrum, who played for the losing Philadelphia Eagles as did former MU lineman Steve Scuillo (1999-2002) that season. Johnathan Goddard (2000-2004), who was a sixth round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2005, then picked up by Indianapolis, was on injured reserved for the entire 2006 season when the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl last year.
In other leagues, coach Larry Coyer (MU player 1962-64) won a title as an assistant coach with the Michigan Panthers in the USFL, beating the Philadelphia Stars who had former MU wide receiver Darnell Richardson on the team, in 1983. B.J. Cohen (1994-97) has won Arena Football League titles with Orlando, winning with the Predators in 2000 and losing the title game in 1999, and with Tampa Bay in 2003, alongside of former Herd teammate Melvin Cunningham (1993-96) on the Storm roster. In the defunct NFL-Europa, Josh Davis (2001-04) played and won the final World Bowl title when the Hamburg Sea Devils were 2007 champs, while Scuillo retired after three games with Hamburg. Rader was on the Berlin Thunder team that lost the title in 2005, while former MU kicker Jason Witczak (1998-99) played on the winning Thunder team in 2002.
Now, Brown can tie Gatski for most NFL titles for a Marshall player with four each with a New England win, while Moss, Hanson and Rader of the Pats, and Bradshaw of the Giants, are all looking for their first championship ring in the pros.
Marshall's All-Time NFL Draft Picks
Player Year Rd Team (final team)
Ahmad Bradshaw-RB 2007 7 New York Giants
Johnathan Goddard-DE 2005 6 Detroit Lions (Colts)
Darius Watts - WR 2004 2 Denver Broncos (Giants)
*Byron Leftwich - QB 2003 1 Jacksonville Jaguars (Falcons)
Chris Crocker - DB 2003 3 Cleveland Browns (Falcons)
Steve Sciullo - OL 2003 4 Indianapolis Colts (Eagles)
Chris Massey - FB 2002 7 St. Louis Rams
Paul Toviessi - DE 2001 2 Denver Broncos
*Chad Pennington - QB 2000 1 New York Jets
Rogers Beckett - DB 2000 2 San Diego Chargers (Bengals)
Doug Chapman - RB 2000 3 Minnesota Vikings (Chargers)
James Williams - WR 2000 6 Seattle Seahawks
John Wade - C 1998 5th Jacksonville Jaguars (Buccaneers)
*Randy Moss - WR 1998 1 Minnesota Vikings (Pats)
*Troy Brown - WR/KR 1993 8 New England Patriots
*#Mike Barber - WR 1989 4 San Francisco 49ers (Cards, Bengals)
*Sean Doctor - TE 1989 6 Buffalo Bills
*Carl Lee - DB 1983 7 Minnesota Vikings (Saints)
A*Andy Socha - RB 1967 14 Washington Redskins
*Tom Good - LB 1965 6 San Diego Chargers
Mike Hicks - T 1964 18 Green Bay Packers
*Rucker Wickline - C 1962 17 Detroit Lions
Jim O'Connor - E 1959 29 Chicago Cardinals
Jim O'Connor - E 1958 24 Cleveland Browns
Ray Dunlap - HB 1958 15 Chicago Cardinals
*Len Hellyer - HB 1956 8 Cleveland Browns
*Albie Maier - T 1955 18 Pittsburgh Steelers
*Jim Swierczek - E 1954 13 Detroit Lions
*Norm Willey - E 1950 13 Philadelphia Eagles
*Charley Snyder - T 1948 19 Pittsburgh Steelers
*#Jackie Hunt - HB 1942 11 Chicago Bears
*Jim Roberts - G 1941 6 Pittsburgh Steelers
*Jack Morlock - HB 1940 12 Detroit Lions
*Everett "Boot" Elkins - HB 1939 15 Chicago Cardinals
*Frank Huffman - G 1939 16 Chicago Cardinals
*Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame; #College Football Hall of Fame, South Bend, Ind.