This is the final day of the first summer semester, and the second semester starts next week. That means the freshmen on the men's basketball team will report to start classes and to work out with the returning players, players who practiced as transfers and one prop who is bigger than even listed. Damier Pitts, Shaquille Johnson and Kore White are coming in to get about six hours of class and to workout with players like Markel Humphrey and Darryl Merthie. Marcus Goode, the prop center, is up to about 325 pounds and has some conditioning work to do while Tay Spann is ready to get going after his car accident last spring, along with Chris Lutz and Brandon Powell. The last three transferred to MU last year and will be eligible this fall, along with Goode. One player, Nigel Spikes, did not qualify but will enroll at MU.
New Herd Ticket Manager: Aaron Goebbel has been named as the new Assistant Athletic Director for Tickets, according to a release from MU Sports Information. Goebbel, who has spent the last four years in operations and facilities before becoming Director of Events in 2006, will replace Matt Monroe who is headed to the University of Maryland for a similar position. Goebbel, brother of MU football coach Todd, is a native of Columbus, Ohio who has a Bachelor's from Bowling Green State University and a Master's in Health and PE from Marshall.
Doug Chapman, Movin' On Up: Former Thundering Herd running back Doug Chapman will move from the field to the press box this year for ESPN. Chapman, who is the No. 2 rusher all-time for Marshall with 4,016 yards from 1996-99, will be a color analyst for college football games. MU was 15-0 in 1996 and I-AA National Champs when he and Erik Thomas both rushed for over 1,000 yards. Moving to the MAC and I-A in 1997, Chapman helped lead Marshall to three straight MAC titles and three straight appearances in the Motor City Bowl. He was the MVP of the 1999 bowl, when MU upended No. 25 BYU on the way to a No. 10 ranking and another undefeated season at 13-0. MU beat Louisville to end up 12-1 in 1998 and lost to Mississippi in the inaugural MCB in 1997, 34-31. Chapman played professionally for the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers.
"We Are Marshall" Outdoor Movie At MU: For the "Welcome Back" weekend at Marshall University this fall, the Warner Bros. movie "We Are Marshall" will be shown on the Buskirk Field August 22 at 9 p.m. WAM is the story of the crash that killed all aboard the MU plane returning from a game at East Carolina and the 1971 "Young" Thundering Herd of head coach Jack Lengyel, who won the first home game after the crash, beating Xavier 15-13 on a last-second play.
Lengyel On USO Trip: Former HC Jack Lengyel has been very much in demand nationwide since the "We Are Marshall" movie, but the former head man of the Herd (1971-74) is taking himself worldwide. Lengyel is one of a USO group that is currently visiting Bagdad to see troops in Iraq. Lengyel joins a group including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. The tour is led by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. Lengyel was the former athletic director at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Take Me Out To A Herd Game: Former and current Marshall baseball players are having a pretty good summer. In the wooden bat Cape Cod League, Nate Lape and Adam Yeager are playing for the Brewster Whitecaps, 11-8-3 on the season and in second in the Cape's East Division. Lape, a center fielder, is hitting .239, but does have three home runs (tied for second on the team) and 10 runs-batted in. He also has three doubles in 12 games played. Yeager is struggling a bit, hitting just .148 in 14 games, but with a team-low nine strikeouts in 14 games played at shortstop.
Three more players returning for the 2009 season are playing in another summer league, the Clark Griffith League. They include outfielder Ben Jerevicius of the Fairfax (Va.) Nationals, in second at 15-9 in the league, and Ian Kadish and Chad Johnson, who have pitched the Vienna (Va.) Senators to a 25-2 mark to lead the league. Jurevicius, who will be a sophomore, is hitting .324 in 11 games with a double, triple and home run and seven RBI, and who has a .000 earned run average in three appearances. In seven innings, he has allowed only four hits.
Johnson, who was named Pitcher of the Week a couple of weeks ago, is eighth in the league with a 1.65 ERA. He has appeared 12 games, is 3-0 with just nine hits for three runs, all earned, and has 21 strikeouts against only two walks in 16.1 innings pitched. Teams are hitting only .158 against Johnson, another sophomore next year as Kadish will also be. Kadish is 15th in the league with a 2.86 ERA. He is 2-0 in five starts and in 22.0 innings pitched, he has allowed 15 hits, seven runs (all earned), has walked six, struck out 20 and teams are hitting only .192 against Kadish.
Marshall's three pros are doing well, also. For the first-place Kalamazoo (Mich.) Kings in the Frontier League, Brendan Murphy his hitting .320 as the DH in 43 games. He has 14 doubles (leading the team), five homers and 34 RBI (third on the team), and is slugging at a .531 clip.
For the 14-8 Pulaski (Va.) Mariners, 0.5 behind Danville (15-8) in the Appalachian League, catcjer Tommy Johnson is hitting .357, and an even better .429 against left-handers. Johnson has three doubles and four RBI in 10 games played and 28 at-bats for the Seattle rookie-league team.
Finally, pitcher Steve Blevins is throwing well for the Gulf Coast League Twins, Minnesota's rookie-league team. He is 1-1 in eight appearances out of the pen, allowing six hits and three runs (all earned). In nine innings pitched, he also has allowed just two walks and has 10 strike outs for the first-place Twins. They are 3.0 games ahead of the Red Sox in the GCL in the South Divison, where other teams belong to the Reds, Pirates and Orioles.