By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Get ready, Jake Parker. Same goes for Chase Hancock, Malik Boatwright, Jalen Jones, Isaiah Brown and any other of a whole slew of area athletes who just wrapped up their high school football careers.
Marshall’s coming for you.
When the recruiting season comes out of its dead period Thursday, Thundering Herd head coach Doc Holliday said his staff will have a definite presence in the Mountain State.
“We’re going to hit every school in the state,” Holliday said during an offseason press conference Monday. “Every coach will have 10 to 12 schools, except for (offensive coordinator) Bill Legg. He and I will hit a couple of schools in Ohio. But Bill and I will be back in West Virginia Friday.
“We don’t want to miss anybody. We want to get our faces in every school and make sure we don’t miss anybody.”
Holliday met with the media to discuss what has been happening with the program since its big win over Maryland in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27. With national letter-of-intent signing day set for Feb. 5, recruiting was the session’s biggest topic.
Referencing the in-state talent on the current roster — most of whom started as walk-ons — Holliday talked of how important it is to recruit his home state.
One player he spoke of specifically is Clint Van Horn. The Woodrow Wilson alumnus arrived at Marshall as a walk-on but worked his way into the starting lineup at right tackle.
“He has maybe become one of the best offensive linemen in Conference USA,” the Hurricane native said.
Holliday also mentioned Bluefield’s Joe Woodrum, who had an impact on special teams, and 6-foot-1, 302-pound offensive lineman Blake Brooks of South Charleston. He wrote himself into Marshall lore as a blocker for 6-1, 240-pound “tailback” Devon Johnson in the “Cheese” package — so called because of Brooks’ nickname.
Holliday also predicted that rising junior Cody Carter, a walk-on from Cabell Midland, will see playing time in 2014.
The key, Holliday said, is that prospective players must be willing to work as hard as those players have.
“I’m not sure there are a lot of ‘diamonds in the rough’ out there anymore,” Holliday said. “A lot of kids from West Virginia have big ol’ hearts but are underdeveloped. You look at every kid I mentioned, they didn’t come in as real good players, but they have big ol’ hearts and were willing to work hard to get where they are.
“If those players are out there, we want to find them.”
Holliday is eager to get on the trail. A new NCAA rule has forced a 30-day dead period, making early recruiting perhaps more important than ever.
“I don’t think I have ever been associated with a dead period that lasted 30 days. I feel lost,” he said. “I feel like we should be out there doing something. It’s a bit different. ... With the way the new dead period is, you better be pretty set at that point and have your hooks in the rest of them, because there isn’t a lot of time left.”
Holliday said his staff is “just about finished.” There will still be an emphasis on offensive linemen over the next three weeks.
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