HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - You might think the novelty of playing a road game in south Florida has worn off for Marshall's natives of that region, what with that October trip to Florida Atlantic.Nah, not so much.For the six natives of Miami proper, the Thundering Herd's trip to Florida International is even more alluring. Those players grew up a short drive, maybe even a longish walk, from the FIU campus, and several played high school games at FIU Stadium and were recruited by FIU.It's certainly another chance to meet with family and friends. Once again, MU coach Doc Holliday will set aside two hours Friday, from 7 to 9 p.m., for such reunions. After that, the Herd refocuses on the task ahead.
Holliday's rationale is simple, and the quote was roughly the same in October as it was Tuesday: "I can't bring those kids home to where they grew up and not allow their families to come see them."Those family members added a good chunk to the Marshall contingent at FAU, and that contingent could outnumber FIU diehards coming out to see a 1-9 home team. The Herd is trying to gain a sweep of the two Florida games, having won 24-23 at FAU.The Herd looked shaky at Boca Raton, trailing 23-14 before rallying to win. Holliday dismissed any notion that the south Florida natives were distracted by family visits, or by playing in front of their family and friends."I don't think that was an issue at FAU," Holliday said. "We need to play better there, but they've got a pretty good team. I think when you look up at the end of the day, they're going to be bowl eligible, and they've got a quarterback who's creating a lot of problems for a lot of people, and they've got some good athletes.
"I don't think allowing those families to see those kids for a couple of hours affected how they played in that game."nn
The recruitment of the Marshall's current Miami-Dade County players had a number of twists, including the commitment of Rakeem Cato to FIU. Bear in mind that the Panthers' offensive coordinator then was Bill Legg, who was also after receiver Tommy Shuler.Legg joined Holliday at Marshall, and the Cato/Shuler combo was among the band of south Florida natives on their recruiting board. As Shuler told it Monday, he committed to Marshall early and worked on Cato and other friends.
"All those kids listen to Tommy. Tommy's like the Pied Piper down there," Holliday said. "Tommy's the guy that they all listen to. It's amazing - they do what Tommy tells them to do, to be honest with you, and Cato did what Tommy told him to do, which was a good thing."nn
Two of FIU's Miami natives are transfers from Mountain State schools. Defensive tackle Imarjaye Albury, a 6-foot, 295-pound defensive tackle, moved back from West Virginia, and 5-11, 195-pound Matt Larrubia transferred from Fairmont State.
Both are sitting out this year. Albury is listed as a redshirt freshman, Larrubia a junior.nn
Holliday and his staff had trouble deciding on two offensive captains, so they named Gator Hoskins, Shuler and Cato. The defensive captains are Alex Bazzie and Ra'Shawde Myers.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.