Herd Kicks Off Spring Practice

Six AM couldn't come quick enough for junior college transfer running back Earl Charles on Thursday. Charles woke up every hour to see if it was time for Marshall's first practice of spring to get underway. Six AM finally arrived, and along with it, cold and rainy skies over Marshall Stadium.

"It was good to get back on a football field," Charles said after the Herd's first early morning practice had ended. "It was a little bit cold."

Coach Bob Pruett's Thundering Herd held their first practice of the spring on Thursday morning at Marshall Stadium under gloomy skies. However, that didn't stop the players from quickly getting back into the swing of things. Quarterback Stan Hill, coming off a 2002 season that saw him rise to the forefront as backup to then-injured QB Byron Leftwich, came into the spring practices ready to battle for the starting job, one that he thinks will be the focal point of these spring drills.

Cold and rainy skies greeted the Marshall football team at the first practice of the spring early Thursday morning.

"I've been waiting all semester for this moment," Hill said. "I'm just trying to get in there and work our offense, making sure it's firing on all cylinders. I'm just looking to go out there and do what I do, step in and do my job."

It doesn't hurt that Hill has three other Marshall players nipping at his heels for the starting QB spot. Graham Gochneaur, Adam Black, and Jimmy Skinner are each expected to make a run at Hill for the starting spot. In the end, Hill thinks that will only make them all better players, though.

"We're going to be battling all spring, and that's just going to make us better," Hill commented. "We're just helping each other out and pushing each other through it."

Quarterback Stan Hill launches a pass downfield, under the eye of assistant coach Larry Kueck.

Earl Charles enters spring drills ready to battle for a running back spot. Charles is one of four junior college transfers signed by Pruett's staff this year. Franklin Wallace, Tank Tunstalle, Charles, and Wilbur Hargrove are all expected to duke it out in March.

"He's ready," defensive end Marcus Hairston said of Charles as the team exited the turf at Marshall Stadium on Thursday morning. Charles racked up over 1,800 yards in his final junior college season. "I'm ready to fight," Charles countered. "You've got to do what you've got to do."

Also new on the scene is assistant coach Shaine Miles. Miles returns to Marshall after a year as an assistant coach at Navy. Prior to that, Miles was a graduate assistant coach at Marshall in 2002. Miles had to quickly return to Huntington just two days prior to spring practice and literally hit the ground running.

"It's always good to wear green and white," Miles laughed. Miles will be the tight ends coach, replacing Bill Legg, who departed to Purdue last week. "We feel like we can utilize them (the tight ends) to our advantage. We've got some good depth. Three of them have won some ballgames with us."

"I'm living from boxcar to boxcar," Miles laughed about returning to Huntington quickly. "But that's alright."

Marshall continues practice on Friday morning, then will resume on Sunday afternoon at Marshall Stadium.

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