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Marshall d-line coach got jumpstart at Virginia Tech

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - There was a time when J.C. Price spent a full day's work with the unforgiving concrete under his feet, not supple artificial turf.

Sure, he could spend a little time under the sun, but instead of selling kids on a college football program, he sold cars in Pulaski, Va.

It put a little extra scratch in his pocket, but Marshall's first-year defensive line coach - then in the outset of his post-playing career - strived for something more than a hefty commission.

"I started out in the NFL and that stood for 'not for long,'" said Price, who was a 1996 third-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers after starring as a defensive tackle at Virginia Tech. "When you get out of the NFL you are kind of in denial about it being over and I kind of bounced around a bit.

"When I sold cars, I was miserable."

Price, 39, split time between the Panthers and Arizona Cardinals in two NFL seasons before calling it quits. The Dunkirk, Md., native returned to the Blacksburg, Va., area where he played college ball.

He volunteered his services to a nearby high school.

Price joined legendary Virginia prep football coach Norm Lineburg at Radford High School from 1999-2001 and parlayed that into a graduate assistant spot at Virginia Tech.

"That jumpstarted my career," Price said.

By 2004 he had a full-time defensive line gig at James Madison, where he stayed for eight seasons.

Price said the opportunity with the Thundering Herd was a "no-brainer."

He is the third defensive line coach in three years under Coach Doc Holliday, who lost Sean Cronin to Temple after his inaugural season and Fred Tate to Texas Tech in February.

Price said Mark Gale, Marshall's director of football operations, lobbied for Price for the Herd's vacancy, and Holliday knew the JMU assistant from his playing days with the Hokies.  

In the early 90s, Price was a Virginia Tech captain, first-team all-Big East selection and third-team All-American while Holliday was an assistant at West Virginia.

"Coach Holliday called Coach Foster," Price said, referring to Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. "That got the ball rolling and now I'm here."

* * *

HOLLIDAY HAD mixed reviews after Tuesday's practice, the seventh of 15 allotted sessions this spring.

The defense came away with three interceptions, one each by linebacker Cortez Carter, cornerback Keith Baxter and cornerback Monterius Lovett.

"It's a double-edged sword," Holliday said. "You get upset with the offense a little bit, but the defense at this point ... if you're defense isn't ahead of your offense you've got major issues.

"Our (defense) was at this point, which is good for them. The offense has to get better."

* * * 

A PAIR of Class of 2012 recruits watched Tuesday's practice.

Quarterback signee Gunnar Holcombe (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) wore green pants and a gray sweatshirt while observing QBs Rakeem Cato and Blake Frohnapfel on what is classified as an unofficial visit prep signal caller. The incoming freshman, who signed with Marshall in February, arrived in Huntington from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday to spend his spring break with the program.

Cabell Midland linebacker Ryan Riedel also took in the session, although he has attended previous practices.

Holcombe passed for 2,305 yards and 29 touchdowns during his senior season. He'll enroll at Marshall in June.

* * *

D.J. HUNTER missed his third spring practice with a couple broken fingers on his left hand.  

The redshirt freshman safety injured the fingers in the April 3 spring session. The 6-foot, 200-pounder missed the 2011 season with a knee injury.

* * *

MARSHALL WILL scrimmage this Saturday during the spring's ninth practice.

The school announced Tuesday that only MU season ticket holders and Big Green members will be permitted inside Edwards Stadium to watch the 9:30 a.m. practice, which will last about two hours.

The school's athletic ticket office will be at the gate to help fans renew season tickets or their Big Green annual contribution.

"Spring football is extremely important to our program," Holliday said. "These reps are imperative for all of our student-athletes, but especially for the young guys in our program.

"The Marshall fan base plays a huge role in our success and these loyal followers deserve an exclusive glimpse into another important spring practice."

The annual Green-White spring game is Saturday, April 28 at 2 p.m.

Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at or 304-348-1712. His blog is at



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