Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

February 5, 2014

Marshall’s class best among non-power leagues

BECKLEY — Doc Holliday recently spoke of how beneficial it was to his football team that the Military Bowl was played early in bowl season and as the only game in town.

Wednesday seemed to provide the proof that he knows what he is talking about.

Marshall signed 28 players to its 2014 recruiting class, which ran away with the designation as the top group in Conference USA. Holliday and staff were able to lock up 11 three-star recruits; no other league school had more than four.

“That is our goal every year, because chances are if you continue to have the best class then you have the best players,” Holliday said. “That gives you a shot to compete for championships.”

Not only is Marshall’s newest class ranked as the best in C-USA, but 247sports.com ranks it as the top class among the non-power conferences.

“Marshall is an attractive place to be right now,” Holliday said. “Kids want to play for championships and they want to play on TV.”

Ten of the 28 prospects gave their verbals after the Herd’s 31-20 bowl win over Maryland in Annapolis, Md. The game had one of the highest ratings among bowls involving C-USA teams.

“I don’t think there’s any question that helps,” Holliday said. “At that point, people and players were now bowl weary. They were still watching.”

Several members of the class could be considered jewels. Two of the biggest were late additions to the group, including safety Kendall Gant and offensive lineman Nathaniel Devers, who committed Sunday and Monday, respectively.

Gant had originally given his verbal to coach Mark Richt and Georgia, but his ACT score is two points lower than required for qualifying. Rather than go the JUCO route, Gant decided to come to Marshall, which accepts partial and non-qualifiers.

A 6-foot-2, 185-pound safety, Gant had 48 tackles and five interceptions as a senior.

Devers, meanwhile, backed out of a commitment to Cincinnati to instead sign with Marshall. The 6-5, 275-pounder is rated as the No. 7 center in the country by Rivals.com.

Four members of this year’s class are already enrolled, including quarterback Cole Garvin.

“Cole Garvin is the QB we wanted from Day 1,” Holliday said.

The others already on campus are offensive lineman A.J. Addison and defensive lineman Jason Smith and Malik Thompson.

Some members of the class are already familiar with one another. Addison and Thompson were teammates at Fork Union, and Gant and offensive lineman Fred Binot will be graduating from Lake Gibson (Fla.) High this spring.

“I honestly think this class is as good as we’ve signed here, and I wouldn’t trade it for anybody else’s,” Holliday said. “I’m glad we got them. We’ve added a lot of great talent to what we have coming back for 2014.”

— Find more information on Marshall’s 2014 recruiting class in our special signing day section in Sunday’s Daily Telegraph.

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