Hoskins was moved to linebacker in Mark Snyder's first season as the Herd's head coach in 2005, after being recruited by Bobby Pruett for his final Marshall team in 2004 that finished 6-6 and played in the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl. He red-shirted as a freshman defensive back (actually weighing around 170-pounds when he came on his recruiting visit in January of 2004) and played for coach Jimmy Collins in the secondary on '04. Collins would replace Bill Wilt as defensive coordinator in 2005, but then Hoskins was moving to linebacker for '05 and was coached by first George Darlington at outside linebacker, then by LB coach Shannon Morrison in 2006, when Darlington left for Louisiana.
Ian Hoskins, shown against Southern Miss in 2005, came in as a 190-pound defensive back and is now playing defensive tackle at 260-pounds as a fifth-year senior who has been at linebacker and end for the Herd. file photo by Greg Perry, Herd Insider
Moving next to defensive end, Hoskins played the 2007 season under defensive line coach Thielen Smith and under new defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap. Following the 2007 season that saw an injured Herd fall to 3-9, Dunlap returned to WVU and Smith was released following the season. Now, as a senior, Hoskins has moved once again to defensive tackle under new defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro and new defensive coordinator Rick Minter. Meanwhile, Hoskins has moved from 210-pounds in '05; up to 245-pounds in '06-'07; and now is about 260-pounds for his fifth and final season. So, changing the defense from a 4-3 look to a 3-4 look will certainly not throw the versatile Hoskins for a loop.
"We are really excited about this year, it's a lot different from the past," said Hoskins at lunch this week before practice. "It's something I've never seen before, except on TV." Hoskins was speaking of the 3-4 alignments Minter has brought to the Herd defense. "It gives us a chance to go play and have fun." But you wonder how much fun it will be for Hoskins, who at defensive tackle will be opposite centers, guards and tackles who all weigh 300-plus pounds as opposed to picking a spot and coming on blitzes at linebacker or end that might only match him with with a back or tight end on certain plays. Hoskins knows it will be different.
"Oh yeah. It's extremely different. (Tuesday) was my first crack at actually doing it full speed, and I learned a lot from one day. It was fun." What Hoskins brings to tackle that 303-pound James Burkes, last year's starter, or 345-pound Brandon Bullock, a newcomer, can't bring to tackle is speed. Hoskins knows, however, that going full gear on Saturday will change some of the drills and how to attack the offensive unit with his defensive unit. "Everything will be different with pads on, but the technique stays the same and the speed stays same. You're responsibilities remain the same, the only difference is a little more grunt to it."
The other thing the team has this year is the return of the 2006 Conference USA Defender of the Year in defensive end/outside linebacker Albert McClellan. Across the defensive front, everyone is excited about No. 96 returning to the fold. "That helps, having Albert back. I said that earlier this week, that's exciting for the rest of us...John Jacobs, Burkes, myself, all of us. It gives us a chance to go play in a lot more one-on-one situations which we can go win."
The depth of the defensive line, which at times last year struggled to put four healthy players in the lineup, is apparent as the defense is running out three complete units in the early practices. "We're extremely deep and good competition brings out the best in all of us." The best in all of this defense is turning it loose, bringing pressure from all over and allowing them to attack instead of sitting back and reading the offenses attack. "This defense will let us off the chain, let us create some havoc and that's what we want to do as football players. I like to be able to run and make plays."
NOTES: Mark Snyder spoke to a group of business people from Leadership Tri-State at the initial "Voices of Leadership" meeting at the Big Green Room of the press box. About 50 persons attended to hear the coach, and men's basketball coach Donnie Jones will speak to the next "Voices of Leadership" meeting in the Hartley Big Green Room in the Henderson Center on Nov. 1. The event is open to the public...junior college tight end Maurice Graham injured his left arm at Thursday's practice and was in a sling today when he came to the field from his summer classes, but his status is not determined yet. Graham only practices every other weekday until summer term is over...true freshman receiver Corey McCutchen was helped from the field with a leg injury, but is not believed to be serious...the players are ready for day one of full pads on Saturday at 3 p.m., a practice opened to the public, if some of the hitting in "shells" (shoulder pads and helmets) was any indication on Friday. There were some enthusiastic hits by defensive end Vinny Curry, running back Terrell Edwards and linebackers Corey Hart and Mario Harvey...a big offensive run was made by Chubb Small, gathering about 50 yards and showing speed and power on the gallop.