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Marshall notebook: Brooks loses weight, gains chance to start

HUNTINGTON — Blake Brooks’ victories in the battle of the scales can be short-lived, and he realizes that.

But as he continues his quest to start at left tackle at Marshall, the South Charleston High graduate has accumulated a lot of secrets and is trying hard to apply them. He succeeded in the past month, dropping from 320 to 299 pounds.

The rundown:

“Cut down my portions, ate better,” he said. “Try to run harder, and don’t eat past 7 o’clock. If you don’t eat past 7 o’clock, the weight just sheds.”

That’s what he has needed to do since coming to Huntington from a season after a freshman season at Fairmont State. That story was well chronicled: He arrived at 335 pounds or so and was out of shape.

That was a long, long time ago. Brooks is now a fifth-year senior at MU and has been given every opportunity to start. He has run at the left guard all camp long, pretty much with the same line — Sebastian Johansson at left tackle, Chris Jasperse at center, Michael Selby at right guard and Clint Van Horn at right tackle. With Van Horn injured the last two days, redshirt freshman Sandley Jean-Felix has stepped in.

Brooks played four games in his sophomore season of 2012 and wasn’t used much more last year — until the bowl game. He played 47 snaps in the first 13 games, but he and fellow guard Selby took about half that in the Thundering Herd’s Military Bowl win over Maryland.

That experience added to Brooks’ urgency to keep trim, though he admitted to “putting on a winter coat” after the bowl. That coat is gone, and Brooks is determined to keep it off.

“I’m not going to pick being fat over playing football,” he said. “There’s no way you can run in this offense at 320-plus. There’s no way. You’re going to be winded by about four or five plays.”

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Tidbits from Friday’s practice, day 5 in the Marshall camp:

n Freshman running back Brandon Byrd was taken to a hospital after a vicious hit by linebacker Cortez Carter. Byrd lost the ball and his helmet, and suffered a concussion. He was carried off on a backboard, but coach Doc Holliday called that a precautionary measure.

n Van Horn remained on crutches and in a boot for the second day, but Holliday said, “He’ll be fine.”

n Safety Tiquan Lang joined practice for the first time, though not in full-team situations.

n Running back Devon Johnson missed the workout to tend to personal matters back at his Tazewell, Va., home. Holliday expects him back today for the Herd’s 1:30 p.m. practice.

n Two players have left the program, receivers Chris Alston Jr. and Andre Scott. Scott had been moved back and forth across the ball in his two-plus years, often a sign of extended scout-team duty ahead. Alston, also a third-year sophomore, had no shot at making the two-deep.

n Jerome Dews, the freshman and former Tennessee commitment, has been moved from safety to linebacker.

Reach Doug Smock at, 304-348-5130 or follow him at

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