By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Marshall wants to play for team championships, not individual accolades. That, apparently, is a good thing.
Senior tight end Gator Hoskins, a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award given annually to the top tight end in college football, was not one of three finalists for the award as announced Monday. Those chosen were North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, Florida State’s Nick O’Leary and Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
All three have stats that warrant selection. Ebron has 50 catches for 774 yards and eight touchdowns; O’Leary 27 for 457 with seven TDs; and Seferian-Jenkins 31 for 361 and six scores.
But none of those numbers top those accumulated by Hoskins. The 6-foot-2, 244-pound Gainesville, Fla., native has 34 receptions for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns — a number that leads all tight ends.
Hoskins’ 17.4 yards per catch is also better than all three (O’Leary is at 16.9, Ebron 15.5 and Seferian-Jenkins 11.7).
With his 137-yard, three-touchdown performance in last Saturday’s 48-10 win at Florida International, Hoskins — a Gator who by himself nearly outscored the Gators of Florida, who were upset 26-20 by Georgia Southern — moved into heady company on Marshall’s career lists. He has 25 career touchdowns, which is fourth behind Randy Moss (53 in two seasons), Darius Watts (43) and Keith Baxter Sr. (26).
His 12 TD catches this season tie him for seventh with current New England Patriot Aaron Dobson (2011), Watts (2002) and Baxter Sr. (1987).
His yardage against FIU was the most by a Marshall tight end since Cody Slate had 177 against New Hampshire in 2007.
Hoskins’ Mackey snub isn’t a mid-major vs. BCS conference debate. Also left out was No. 8 Baylor’s Jace Amaro, who has a whopping-for-a-tight-end 92 receptions for 1,157 yards (12.6) and six touchdowns as part of an offense that averaged nearly seven football fields a game.
Again, Hoskins’ touchdown total and yards-per-reception are both higher. How he and Amaro are not among the finalists is tough to fathom.
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With the change of the college football landscape that has taken place over the last couple of years, one of the biggest regrets is the loss of historic rivalries. Most notably in the Mountain State is the now-extinct series between West Virginia and Pitt, teams that left the Big East (extinct, like the rivalry) for the Big 12 and ACC, respectively.
The shift will also impact a Marshall-East Carolina rivalry that has been a very interesting series.
The two will always be connected by the 1970 plane crash that killed nearly the entire Marshall football team that was making its way back to Huntington after a loss at ECU. But there have been several games that became instant classics.
There was Marshall’s win over the Pirates in the 2001 GMAC Bowl. The Herd trailed 38-8 at halftime, but battled back behind quarterback Byron Leftwich and won 64-61 in double overtime.
In 2011, Dobson’s one-handed grab in the end zone highlighted a 34-27 overtime win over the Pirates that made Marshall bowl eligible in the last game of the season.
Then there was last year’s 65-59 double overtime win by ECU in Greenville, N.C. That, too, was the last game of the season and kept the Herd home for the holidays.
When the two meet at noon Friday in Huntington, it will be for the last time as ECU heads for the American Athletic Conference (formerly the Big East). Appropriately, the game will be huge — the winner will win the Conference USA East Division and play in (and possibly host) the conference championship game on Dec. 7.
Sixty minutes often have not been enough to decide the games. It would be nice to see something worked out so the rivalry does not have to end permanently.
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The Marshall ticket office will open at 8:30 a.m. today and Wednesday at the Cam Henderson Center. It will close at 6 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The office will be open 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 5-6:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving for will-call ticket pickup for anyone who orders tickets online at HerdZone.com or by phone at 800-THE-HERD.
On Friday, all stadium gates at Joan C. Edwards Stadium will open at 9:30 a.m. The will-call window is located just south of Gate A.
All sideline seats will be $20.
— E-mail: gfauber@
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