Football

The Thundering Word: Doc welcomes more recruits to Herd

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HUNTINGTON – Before long, they will be wearing the kelly green and white of Marshall, but their recruiting designation by Herd football is of a different hue.

Coach Doc Holliday’s program has added six players as “blueshirts,” a designation for a student-athlete who is able to enroll to play immediately in the fall, although they are not initial counters on scholarship limits until 2017-18 school year.

FBS programs are using the “blueshirt” rule to aid depth, and the six who are joining Holliday’s Herd are scheduled to go on athletic scholarship in the fall semester as counters under the overall limit of 85. All are enrolled in classes this summer.

“We’re never finished recruiting,” Holliday said.

A seventh scholarship player moving into the program is 5-foot-9 cornerback Terry Richardson, a graduate transfer from Michigan who played in 15 games over three seasons for the Wolverines. Richardson provides depth at a position where Marshall was in need of personnel.

One of the Herd blueshirts is freshman quarterback Jackson White of Gainesville, Fla. (profiled in a story on Marshall QBs on HerdInsider.com yesterday, http://herdinsider.com/football/gaines-white-join-litton-morrell-at-qb-20166896). The 6-foot-2 White, the son and grandson of college quarterbacks and from a deep-rooted football family, starred at Buchholz High School and “once we determined we felt like we needed to sign another one because of our quarterback situation, we were looking for a good one and we got one,” Holliday said.

Here’s an alphabetical look at the other five Herd blueshirts, with comments by Holliday:

*Anthony Anderson, RB, Iowa Western CC

The 6-2, 240-pound Anderson redshirted in 2015 after rushing 78 times for 352 yards in 12 games as IWCC fell in the JUCO national title game in 2014, so he has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Anderson helped Eden Prairie High School to three straight Minnesota Class 6A titles and as a 2013 senior ran for 1,387 yards on 146 carries (9.5 ypc). He also was recruited by Boise State, Cal, Southern Miss, Wyoming, Minnesota and Illinois.

“He’s a JUCO guy we felt like we needed to add depth at running back,” Holliday said. “He was a player of the year in Minnesota as a high school senior, a big back and a talented guy we’re anxious to see once we get into camp.”

Asked if because of Anderson’s size that he might be the “next Devon Johnson,” Holliday smiled.

“Let’s don’t put that on him; I’m not sure he’s there yet,” the Herd coach said. “He is big. He’s got the same weight. Let’s hope he’s the same player.”

*Tyre Brady, WR, transfer from Miami (Fla.)

The 6-3, 205-pound Brady has to sit out 2016 as an NCAA Division I transfer, but he will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after playing in 2014 and ’15 for the Hurricanes. A homestead, Fla., resident, Brady played at South Dade High School. Last season for Miami, he played eight games and made three starts, catching nine passes for 112 yards and one touchdown. Originally a Kentucky commit, he played in two games as a 2014 freshman.

“We knew about him in high school and when he wanted to make a change, we thought he could help us,” Holliday said. “Brady’s a talented guy who we’re happy to have here and he’ll have two seasons to help us at receiver.”

*Deyton Jackson, WR, Peoria (Ariz.) Liberty HS

The 5-11, 170-pound Jackson starred with his versatility in his final high school season in 2015, catching 66 passes for 818 yards and nine touchdowns, and rushing 31 times for 299 yards and two scores. As a 2014 junior, he had 44 receptions for 747 yards and 10 touchdowns and helped Liberty to the state Division II title game.

Jackson, from Surprise, Ariz., had a long-distance connection to the Herd from Arizona is through former MU receivers coach Mike Furrey, who recently was named head coach at Division II Limestone (S.C.).

Furrey knew Jackson’s father, former Arena League superstar Chris Jackson, from their time together in the indoor league. Chris Jackson was a two-time Arena Offensive MVP after starring at Washington State in 1997 as a 1,000-yard receiver, where Ryan Leaf’s passing led the Cougars to the Rose Bowl.

“Jackson’s a guy who can help us. We felt like we needed depth at receiver, and Mike knew his dad and they talked. We’re glad Deyton is here and he’s a tremendous young prospect. … Recruiting Arizona? We get them from everywhere.”

*Dontrell Johnson, CB, Ellsworth CC (Iowa)

A Pahokee, Fla., native, the 5-11, 175-pound Johnson starred at Pahokee High before transferring to Everglades Prep Academy, and then played two seasons of junior college ball. Johnson’s nickname is “Fred” – after his cousin, former Florida Gators and Jacksonville Jaguars star running back Fred Taylor.

Johnson played in seven games for Ellsworth as a 2014 freshman, making two interceptions, then last season had 36 tackles and five picks in 12 games. In December 2014, Johnson’s development as a prospect and recruiting process was profiled in a major story in the Tampa Bay Times.

“He’s a junior college corner we like a lot, and we have a need at that position,” Holliday said. “Alex (Mirabal, who recruits south Florida for the Herd) was aware of him at Pahokee. We’re anxious to see him when camp starts in August.”

*Grayson Pontius, K, East Mississippi CC

Pontius has three seasons of eligibility remaining with the Herd. In his only junior college season, the 6-2 Biloxi, Miss., native made 6-of-11 field goal attempts, with his longest success from 43 yards. He also made 58-of-62 on PAT attempts and averaged 39 yards on 16 punts, with six inside the 20.

As a Biloxi High senior, he was a 247Sports All-State third team selection, making 41-of-47 PATs and 4-of-8 field goals. He also had 25 touchbacks in 52 kickoffs. He committed to the Herd in early March. His older brother, former North Alabama star kicker Taylor Pontius, was in the Indianapolis Colts’ camp last summer.

“He’s a junior college kid we really liked,” Holliday said. “He’s going to get out there and compete. His brother is a tremendous kicker, and Grayson is a guy we are anxious to see kick when we can get out there in camp.”

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