www.wvgazettemail.com Marshall Sports http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Herd RB Johnson makes Doak Walker watch list http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150716/DM03/150719376 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150716/DM03/150719376 Thu, 16 Jul 2015 22:56:16 -0400

From Staff Reports

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall star running back Devon Johnson, who ran for 1,767 yards in his collegiate debut at the position last season, was named Thursday to the 2015 Doak Walker Award preseason watch list.

Johnson is one of 69 players on the watch list for the award, presented annually to the nation's premier running back. Johnson was one of 10 semifinalists for the honor last season, when he led Conference USA in rushing. The 6-foot-1, 243-pound Johnson was chosen earlier this week to the 2015 All-C-USA Preseason Team, and as an All-C-USA first-team selection last season as well.

The senior from Richlands, Va., ran for a school-record 272 yards in an Oct. 25 victory over Florida Atlantic. Ten semifinalists will be announced Nov. 17, with three finalists named on Nov. 24. The winner will be revealed on Dec. 10.

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Banowsky steps down as Conference USA commissioner http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150716/DM03/150719390 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150716/DM03/150719390 Thu, 16 Jul 2015 21:09:34 -0400 By Derek Redd CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky announced Thursday that he would step down from that post.

In Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick's mind, Banowsky's leadership is the reason there remains a Conference USA for him to exit.

"Every time you thought Conference USA was done, it came back stronger," Hamrick said.

Banowsky, C-USA's commissioner since he replaced future SEC commissioner Mike Slive in 2002, will become the executive director of the College Football Playoff Foundation, the organization's community service wing that, among other things, oversees the Extra Yard for Teachers initiative. Community service is a large part of Banowsky's life. He had been the chairman of the CFP Foundation and also the president and founder of the Heart of Dallas Foundation and chairman of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.

"Cindy and I have been so blessed, we simply feel the time is right for us to make change in our lives and focus more of our attention on our community and the cause work that is important to us," Banowsky said in a conference release. "We are so grateful for the friendship and support we've received throughout the years. We hope we can use this next chapter to pay some of it forward. We are particularly grateful for the opportunity to lead the College Football Playoff Foundation and further the amazing work it is doing."

When Banowsky called Hamrick to tell him of his plans, Hamrick admitted he was a little surprised, but understood that Banowsky was following one of his passions.

"Britton is one of those guys where he likes to start and grow things," Hamrick said. "He loves doing that and he has great experience with all of the changes in Conference USA."

During Banowsky's tenure, he twice oversaw significant upheaval in C-USA's membership. In 2005, he lost seven charter members to other conferences - Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida to the Big East and Charlotte and Saint Louis to the Atlantic 10. In 2013-14, there was another exodus, with Central Florida, Southern Methodist, Tulsa, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis and Tulane all jumping to the reconfigured Big East, now called the American Athletic Conference.

In response, Conference USA looked mainly toward major metropolitan areas for its newest members, mining Florida's Atlantic coast for Florida Atlantic and Florida International, welcoming back Charlotte, entering the Nashville area for Middle Tennessee and fortifying its Texas footprint with North Texas and the University of Texas at San Antonio. C-USA also swiped up growing programs in smaller locales like Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech. LTU played Marshall for the conference football title in just its second year in the conference and was picked to repeat as West Division champion.

"The landscape has settled and these universities are all on the rise," Banowsky said. "They work very well together and the conference has tremendous leadership on each campus and within the conference office."

Hamrick said the potential can be seen in the first CFP payouts. The Group of Five conferences split $15 million in CFP money with the top conference getting $5 million and the fifth conference getting $1 million. C-USA grabbed $4 million from the pot as the second-place conference - one place ahead of the American.

"As seen by the College Football Playoff rankings of the Group of Five, the only conference ranked ahead of us in football was the Mountain West and several of our members left for the American," Hamrick said. "That in itself tells you the great job Britton did."

The new commissioner will have his or her hands full right from the start. C-USA's television deals with Fox Sports and CBS College Sports both expire in 2016, and the conference will negotiate with both networks for more revenue. If Hamrick was writing the job description - and he stressed that wasn't his job - he'd want someone experienced in TV negotiations, plus experience in a conference office. He'd like someone who has been an AD, that understands the College Football Playoff and has experience working with the NCAA basketball tournament.

"We need someone who's going to be a leader," Hamrick said. "That sounds like that person doesn't exist out there, but I believe that person does and I believe we can find them."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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Media picks Marshall football to finish second in C-USA East http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150715/DM03/150719549 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150715/DM03/150719549 Wed, 15 Jul 2015 16:12:45 -0400

From STafF reports

The Marshall football team was picked by Conference USA media to finish second to Western Kentucky in the conference's East Division. The C-USA preseason poll, chosen this season by select media members, was released Wednesday. Louisiana Tech, who Marshall beat in last year's conference title game, was picked to repeat as West Division champion.

The Hilltoppers, who finished 8-5 overall and 4-4 in the conference last season, knocked the Thundering Herd from the ranks of the unbeaten in a wild 67-66 win in their regular-season finale. WKU returns quarterback Brandon Doughty - the 2014 conference MVP and 2015 preseason offensive player of the year - and six other offensive starters, including 1,490-yard rusher Leon Allen, plus nine returning defensive starters.

The Herd, which capped its 13-1 season with a win over Mid-American Conference champ Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl, returns Doak Walker semifinalist running back Devon Johnson. Johnson led C-USA with 1,767 rushing yards. Yet school career passing leader Rakeem Cato is gone, as is C-USA career leader in receptions Tommy Shuler and 2014 conference defensive player of the year Neville Hewitt.

Middle Tennessee was picked to finish third in the East Division, with Florida Atlantic fourth, Florida International fifth, Old Dominion sixth and new C-USA football member Charlotte seventh. Rice was picked to finish second in the West Division, with UTEP third, Southern Mississippi fourth, North Texas fifth and UTSA sixth.

Conference USA's season begins Thursday, Sept, 3, when FIU visits the University of Central Florida, UTSA visits Arizona and Western Kentucky visits Vanderbilt.

East Division

1 - Western Kentucky

2 - Marshall

3 - Middle Tennessee

4 - Florida Atlantic

5 - FIU

6 - Old Dominion

7 - Charlotte

West Division

1 - Louisiana Tech

2 - Rice

3 - UTEP

4 - Southern Miss

5 - North Texas

6 - UTSA

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Herd puts six on preseason all-C-USA team http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150714/DM03/150719613 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150714/DM03/150719613 Tue, 14 Jul 2015 23:37:15 -0400

From Staff Reports

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall University's football team placed more players on the preseason all-Conference USA team than any other in the conference. Six of the Thundering Herd made the list, chosen by C-USA coaches and announced Tuesday morning.

Running back Devon Johnson, offensive tackle Clint Van Horn, defensive tackle Jarquez Samuel, linebacker D.J. Hunter, punter Tyler Williams and long snapper Matt Cincotta represent the Herd this preseason. Johnson, Van Horn, Williams and Cincotta all were members of the 2014 all-conference first team, four of a record 10 Herd first-teamers, chosen at last season's end.

The Herd is coming off a 13-1 season where it won its first Conference USA title, beat Mid-American Conference champ Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl and finished ranked 22nd in the USA Today coaches poll and 23rd in the Associated Press sportswriters poll.

Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty, last season's conference MVP, was named preseason offensive player of the year. Florida International defensive back Richard Leonard was named preseason defensive player of the year and UTEP kick returner Autrey Golden was named preseason special teams player of the year.

This year's C-USA preseason poll was chosen by selected media members and will be released Wednesday.

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2 from Marshall, 1 from WVU make Lombardi watch list http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150714/DM03/150719614 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150714/DM03/150719614 Tue, 14 Jul 2015 23:36:07 -0400

From Staff Reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Marshall offensive tackle Clint Van Horn and linebacker D.J. Hunter and West Virginia University linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski all made the 145-player watch list for the Lombardi Award, given annually to the top major college lineman or linebacker.

Hunter, a senior, finished last season with 80 tackles, 10 for a loss and 5.5 sacks. Van Horn is a 2014 first-team all-Conference USA pick and led Marshall with 92 knockdowns over 14 games. He made the Lombardi watch list last season. Kwiatkoski led the Mountaineers with 103 tackles, including a team-best 71 unassisted tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss with four pass breakups

The Lombardi Award ceremony will be held Dec. 9.

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Ex-Herd standout Blair gets pitching win at Pan Am Games http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150713/DM03/150719706 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150713/DM03/150719706 Mon, 13 Jul 2015 23:13:00 -0400

From Staff Reports

AJAX, Ontario - Former Marshall pitcher Aaron Blair threw five innings, allowing two runs on three hits, to get the win in the United States' 5-3 victory against Colombia on Monday at the Pan American Games in Ajax, Ontario, Canada.

Blair, a 2013 first-round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks, is 2-1 in four appearances since being called up to Arizona's Triple-A club, the Reno (Nev.) Aces, on June 17. Prior to that, the ex-Herd ace and Las Vegas native had posted a 6-3 record with a 2.30 earned run average in 13 appearances with the Double-A Mobile (Ala.) Bay Bears.

For Colombia, current West Virginia Power outfielder Tito Polo went 0 for 4 Monday and was hit by a pitch. The United States' next game is Wednesday against Nicaragua.

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Derek Redd: W.Va. Power on speedy winning pace http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150713/DM03/150719716 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150713/DM03/150719716 Mon, 13 Jul 2015 22:35:28 -0400 By Derek Redd CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Pardon me while my mind runneth over:

n The West Virginia Power is pretty quick, evident with its 163 stolen bases that are second in the South Atlantic League. That speed has translated to the team's record.

With its 14-5 win Sunday at Greensboro, West Virginia reached the 50-win mark at the second-fastest pace in team history, 87 games. Only the 2007 edition of the Power - which included current Cleveland Indian Michael Bradley, who finished third in last season's American League MVP voting - did it faster, in 71 games.

This Power team hit 50 wins even quicker than the 2013 Power. That roster included a pair of players Baseball America ranks among the Pirates' top 10 prospects for 2015 - No. 1-ranked pitcher Tyler Glasnow and No. 4-ranked outfielder/first baseman Josh Bell. It also featured shortstop Dilson Herrera, who was traded to the New York Mets and already has made that Major League roster.

That Power team reached the 50 win mark in 95 games, on its way to finishing first in the SAL Northern Division's second half and qualifying for the league playoffs. And its a 180-degree turnaround from last season, when the Power got to 50 wins in 122 games, the slowest pace in team history.

The 2015 Power, which finished second in the Northern Division in the league's first half, lead the Northern in the second half by three games entering Tuesday's home game versus Hagerstown. The team isn't doing it with a ton of offensive fireworks (it's in the middle of the SAL pack in doubles, triples and home runs) but that doesn't mean it's not populating the bases.

West Virginia leads the league in on-base percentage (.339), is tied with Delmarva for the league lead in walks drawn (305) and has struck out the third-fewest times in the SAL this season (562). Oh, and if you're thinking about heading to Appalachian Power Park for this seven-game homestand, that's where the Power is clearly at its best. West Virginia is 8-1 at home in the second half, and its 28 total home wins are tied with Hickory for most in the league so far.

n When college football verbal commitments start going the way of elaborate prom proposals, it's time to re-evaluate.

National Signing Day long has been the home of theatrics. Recruits have pulled hats, jerseys, even mascots from under tables to announce where they were signing to play. But that's when those kids have made it official.

Prep kicker Quinn Nordin pulled out all the stops to make it unofficial, considering verbal commitments are non-binding until they actually put pen to paper in Feburary. Nordin, considered the nation's top kicking prospect, recently posted a 28-second video on his Twitter feed announcing his intent to sign with Penn State.

The video, in black and white, shows Nordin looking out the window of, then disembarking from a twin-engine aircraft, all to the tune of Diddy's "Coming Home." For the teenage set, that little production probably was awesome. For a 38-year-old quickly sliding into Curmudgeon-ville, it's just too much.

Hey, kids, stick with Twitter emojis. If they're good enough for the Los Angeles Clippers, they're good enough for you.

n Are you a Marshall football fan? Have an afternoon free? There's a YouTube highlight reel for you. Over at Dunk Media's YouTube page is a video that chronicles every touchdown the Thundering Herd scored in 2014, from the first one versus Miami (Ohio) to the last one in the Boca Raton Bowl versus Northern Illinois.

Considering the Herd scored 84 touchdowns last season - only Oregon and Ohio State, at 90 each, scored more and they had an extra game to do it - one would figure that film isn't short. It's not. It's 32 minutes, 48 seconds long. It's a YouTube video that calls for a trip to the snack bar for popcorn and soda.

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Marshall opens doors to Sports Medicine Institute http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150712/DM03/150719807 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150712/DM03/150719807 Sun, 12 Jul 2015 21:06:47 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - When Dr. Charles Giangarra walks through the doors of Marshall University's new Sports Medicine Institute on Monday - the first day patients can be seen - he'll definitely be excited, maybe even a little emotional.

"This is a dream come true," said Giangarra, Marshall's head team physician. "It looked for a while like it wasn't going to happen, that it was just going to be a pipe dream forever. Then, all of a sudden, the doors kind of opened and we just went with it."

The institute is the final step in Marshall's Chris Cline Athletic Complex, which already includes an indoor practice field and track, athletics hall of fame and academic support center. The Sports Medicine Institute will put every component of sports medicine - physicians, trainers, physical therapists, nutritionists and more, plus the equipment they need - under one roof. And the facility's impact will be felt far beyond university walls.

The institute, Giangarra said, isn't solely for Marshall student-athletes. Scratch golfers and 70-year-old marathon runners are welcome, too.

"We're looking for anyone who's health-conscious and active," he said, "from pediatric to geriatric."

Though it sits on university grounds, Marshall director of sports medicine Tom Belmaggio can't wait for the entire community to have the chance to take advantage of the new facility.

"I'm ecstatic," Belmaggio said. "There's been so much thought and planning that's gone into this thing, and now we're offering this comprehensive approach to the public. It's going to be one of those things we haven't had in this region.

"We're offering something that nobody's done before here," he added, "and not many people can actually say they're offering throughout the country."

The centralized nature of the facility is another of its strengths. In the past, treating an athlete often meant calling one site to schedule an X-ray, calling another site to reserve a hydrotherapy pool and calling another to set a chiropractor's appointment. Within the Sports Medicine Institute's nearly 20,000 square feet will be all those things plus exam rooms, conference rooms, and weight and cardio equipment, including an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill, which uses air pressure to reduce body weight and decrease impact on an athletes joints while running.

"It's a one-stop shop for sports medicine," said Dr. Andy Gilliland, another of Marshall's team physicians.

It also accelerates treatment time for injuries. If a student-athlete is injured at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, the Cam Henderson Center or Dot Hicks Field, it will only be a matter of minutes before they're at the Sports Medicine Institute to be examined.

Research will be another crucial mission for the institute, something Giangarra called part of the mandate for the facility. It's the practice of translational medicine - conducting research, then translating those findings into diagnostic tools, medicines, education, policies and procedures.

"We want to be on the leading edge, the cutting edge," Giangarra said. "We think we have ways to improve not only how we treat injuries, but also prevent them. The research component was very, very important."

Among the first projects is a concussion consortium. Medical practitioners from around the region - from physical therapists and school counselors to athletic trainers, physicians and traditional researchers - are meeting once a quarter to discuss how to drive concussion care in the region.

"We've got a multi-pronged approach about this where we're going to focus on the medical care, the research, high school safety and high school initiatives and we're going to focus on legislative initiatives," Gilliland said. "And at this meeting, it's 50 people in a room and five of the 50 are all about the legislative part. And they get in front of everybody and they say, this is what we've been doing on the legislative part in the last three months and this is where we're at. And we're able to take that manpower and really spread the message and spread the word really, really rapidly, which is exciting."

The institute's concussion research will include two baseline concussion tests, ImPACT and C3 Logix.

There will be a significant sports performance component as well. Among the technology available will be TRAZER, a rehabilitation module much like an Xbox Kinect, which can test strength and balance and also aid in concussion research. The institute also will house a STACK Velocity sports performance center (www.velocitysp.com/marshall), which will help improve speed, power and agility in participating athletes.

"It's easy to make somebody stronger," Belmaggio said. "But it's more difficult to train them in a way that will make them more explosive, to decrease 40 (-yard dash) times. It takes more methodology to do that, and that's what STACK Velocity will allow us to do."

Everyone involved in Marshall's new Sports Medicine Institute is anxious to get to work Monday. They have more technology and more experienced minds at their disposal than ever before to treat athletes both at Marshall and in the surrounding area. Their hope is that, through the institute, Marshall develops into a leader in the field.

"Before, we didn't have the means to that end," Gilliland said. "Now we have the means to that end, to where there's no reason that we can't start leading and driving and developing standards of care that other people will have to adopt.

"So instead of people turning around and saying, 'What are they doing in Pittsburgh?', they'll be saying 'What are they doing in Huntington?'" he added. "That really, really excites me."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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Herd RB Johnson named to Maxwell Award watch list http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150707/DM03/150709409 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150707/DM03/150709409 Tue, 7 Jul 2015 22:32:22 -0400

From STaff Reports

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall running back Devon Johnson, a semifinalist last season for the Doak Walker Award, was named Tuesday to the watch list for the 2015 Maxwell Award, given to the top player in college football.

In his first season as a collegiate running back, Johnson finished first in Conference USA and sixth in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 1,767 rushing yards, scoring 17 touchdowns. The senior had 10 games with at least 100 rushing yards, including a school-record 272 gainst Florida Atlantic.

Maxwell semifinalists will be announced Nov. 2, with three finalists named Nov. 23. The Maxwell winner will be announced Dec. 10.

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Cato named CFL top performer of week http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150707/DM03/150709411 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150707/DM03/150709411 Tue, 7 Jul 2015 22:31:57 -0400

From Staff Reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Former Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, now a quarterback with the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, was named Tuesday as one of the CFL's three top performers of the week, sharing the honors with Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Ryan Smith and Toronto Argonauts quarterback Trevor Harris.

In his inaugural professional start, Cato led the Alouettes to a 29-11 win over the Calgary Stampeders, completing 20 of 25 passes for 241 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Alouettes next play Winnipeg on Friday.

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Marshall soccer to face UC in preseason http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150706/DM03/150709527 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150706/DM03/150709527 Mon, 6 Jul 2015 23:11:19 -0400

from STaff Reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Marshall men's soccer team will face four teams who reached last season's NCAA tournament, and will tune up for this season with an exhibition versus the University of Charleston.

The Thundering Herd, which released its 2015 schedule Monday, will play the Golden Eagles at 5 p.m. Aug. 23 to finish its three-game exhibition slate. Marshall will play High Point on Aug. 17 and Salem University on Aug. 20.

The regular season schedule is highlighted by a quartet of tournament qualifiers - Charlotte, Kentucky, Old Dominion and the University of Alabama at Birmingham - and the Marshall Invitational, which will include Robert Morris, Bowling Green and Evansville.

"Our fall schedule is a good balance of conference and non-conference games," Marshall coach Bob Gray said. "We are happy to have three preseason games at home with 11 new players joining the squad. It's a good chance to look at them before our first road trip to Michigan. Our conference schedule is the bulk of our competition with many of those teams expected to be ranked in the top 20 again this fall."

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Derek Redd: Cato can capitalize on chance in CFL http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150706/DM03/150709537 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150706/DM03/150709537 Mon, 6 Jul 2015 21:55:16 -0400 By Derek Redd CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Rakeem Cato's young football career has been built on making the most of the opportunities he's offered, opportunities that have come in short supply.

He chose to attend Marshall University out of pool that included Marshall and Florida International. The Thundering Herd took a chance on starting the scrawny, then-160-pound freshman right out of the gate. He repaid the program with 14,079 passing yards and 131 touchdowns - more than any other quarterback in Marshall history - plus three bowl wins and a Conference USA championship.

Virtually ignored by the NFL - his one shot came at the Cleveland Browns rookie mini-camp - the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League added him to their roster in May. He was one of six quarterbacks that began Montreal's preseason camp and became the fourth to line up under center for the Alouettes in their first two games when he was named the starter Friday versus the Calgary Stampeders.

He repaid that trust with a 20-for-25, 241-yard, three-touchdown performance in a 29-11 win over the defending league champions.

That surprised the Canadian sports media, which said rookie quarterbacks often crumble under the pressure of that first start. Cato carved up the Stampeders with short and intermediate routes, much like how he attacked defenses at Marshall, using slot receiver Tommy Shuler and tight ends Gator Hoskins and Eric Frohnapfel as his primary weapons.

His comments following the game mirrored those he often made after Marshall games.

"I just wanted to stay the course," he told reporters, "believe in my coaches, believe in my teammates around me, believe in a great week of preparation and practice. The only thing I had to do was just come out here and showcase my talents at the highest level and believe in my teammates around me."

The Canadian sportswriters also were surprised at the level of buzz Cato's performance created back in the United States. Marshall fans took to social media in droves during and after Friday's game, beaming with pride over Cato's night. A Montreal sportswriter emailed me Saturday, asking if such a response was normal.

Both Cato and Marshall's fan base are special situations. Marshall lost 75 players, coaches, staff and boosters in a 1970 plane crash and watched the football program come to the brink of fading away. That event resonates within the Thundering Herd fan base to this day and the successes Marshall football has seen since are a great source of pride for the university and its fans. When they see one of their own do well, their joy is obvious.

"I love them," Cato said Friday. "That's my home. Marshall University, Miami, Florida, that's my home. I take pride in everyone who believes in me."

Cato came from difficult beginnings as well. He lost his mother when he was 13. His father was in prison before he was born. A network of relatives, friends and mentors kept him moving toward the goal of leaving Miami's dangerous Liberty City neighborhood and heading to college and beyond.

"I think he had to fight to get everything he got," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said prior to Cato's senior season. "I think every day he woke up, he had to find a way to win. It would have been easy just to roll over, quit and say to hell with it, but he didn't. He found a way today to get up and win."

Within Marshall fans' cheers for Cato came jeers for the NFL. They needled the league that barely gave their former quarterback a passing glance. Yet Cato is still 6 feet tall and still about 180 pounds and that's still very small for an NFL signal-caller.

It looks, though, like he could find a home in Canada and its more open version of football, with wider and longer fields that are more conducive to passing games. Maybe he can become Doug Flutie who, after a legendary CFL career, became an NFL starting quarterback and Pro Bowler. Maybe he'll become Henry Burris who, outside of a two-year cup of coffee in the NFL, has been a CFL mainstay since 1998. Maybe he'll become Darian Durant. At 5-11, he's another undersized quarterback who has spent 10 seasons in Canada.

Or, rather than predict the future, let's focus on the present. CFL contracts are quite modest compared to the NFL - CFL minimum is $51,000 - but how many 23-year-olds make even that much right out of college? Successful starting CFL quarterbacks can ink deals comfortably in the six-figure range.

Right now, Cato gets to make a living playing a game he's loved since childhood in one of the world's great cities. He's a member of a short list of people in this world who can say that.

He can stay on that list if he just remains on the path that allowed him to reach this point - embracing the opportunities he receives.

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Marshall football lands pair of offensive linemen commits http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150629/DM03/150629108 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150629/DM03/150629108 Mon, 29 Jun 2015 22:51:52 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Marshall football team picked up verbal commitments Monday from a pair of offensive linemen. The first came from Lowndes (Ga.) High lineman Tarik Adams and the second came from Madison Central (Ky.) High's Will Ulmer.

The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Adams is rated two stars by Rivals and 247Sports. He held offers from several Conference USA schools, Army, Navy, Air Force and Cincinnati. Ulmer, at 6-5 and 285 pounds, is rated two stars by Rivals and Scout. Marshall now has 11 verbal commitments, including seven in the last four days.

Verbal commitments are non-binding. Football players can sign their letters of intent starting Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.

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Marshall's academic center boosts quantity, quality of service http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150629/DM03/150639987 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150629/DM03/150639987 Mon, 29 Jun 2015 22:33:12 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - When Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick first returned to the university in that job, the former Thundering Herd linebacker asked where student-athletes went for tutoring, computer labs and academic advising. He didn't like what he saw.

"I can remember walking into this little room in the Shewey Building and there were 12 computers and five of them were broken," he said, "and there were 20 kids sitting, waiting to get onto a computer."

The days of cramped rooms and broken computers are gone. Marshall student-athletes now can take advantage of the wide-open spaces of the Buck Harless Student-Athlete Academic Center, a 14,000-square-foot area on second floor of the Chris Cline Athletic Complex.

The center, which opened earlier this month, traded the outdated facilities of old for the room and technology that could appropriately serve the university's nearly 400 student-athletes. Tara Helton, the athletic program's director of academic counseling, said the anticipation to open the facility grew by the day, but nothing matched watching the student-athletes actually using it.

"You realized - obviously the space, the technology - you knew it was going to be much better than anything we have at Marshall," she said. "But when you walked in and saw student-athletes using it, it sort of took your breath away a little bit to know it's finally come to fruition. To have something on this grand of scale, I'd put this academic center against any in the nation."

Before the Harless Center opened, Marshall student-athletes had a room at the Shewey Building and another at Gullickson Hall. Shewey's room had eight computers. Gullickson's area had 17 computers, two cubicles and a five-person classroom.

The Harless Center more than quadrupled the number of available computers. The main computer lab has 64 touch-screen computers. A separate "quiet" lab has 34 more. The center has four tutorial rooms that can house two to four students, plus four group rooms for four to six students, a 25-seat classroom and a 75-seat auditorium, all equipped with computers. It also includes a recruiting lounge where coaches from all sports can meet with recruits in a room that has both the Harless Center and the indoor practice facility and track in full view.

The new technology was first and foremost on Helton's wish list for the new center, along with the room to allow student-athletes to study comfortably. A welcoming space can make a big difference in a student's desire to study, she said.

"It's crucial," she said. "It's critical. You have a convenient location for our student-athletes, ample technology, ample space for group meetings, one-on-one tutoring, quiet places to sit down and study. I think it makes all the difference for our student-athletes to succeed."

The Harless Center is part of the fruits of Marshall's Vision Campaign, which includes an indoor practice facility and track, an athletic hall of fame, the new soccer stadium and the soon-to-open Marshall Sports Medicine Institute.

"Every one of these facilities, our goal was to make sure it was the best that you could build, and we've done that," Hamrick said. "The academic facility is up there with the rest of them. It's absolutely amazing. Really, we're going from having nothing to having probably one of the best in the country. This thing matches up with anything I've ever seen and anywhere I've ever been."

Marshall athletics has done well in the academic arena. The latest multi-year academic progress rates for football, men's basketball, men's golf and both indoor and outdoor track and field were the highest in the 10 years the NCAA has used the APR and tennis and women's cross country matched their 10-year highs.

Helton said the Harless Center will be perfect in helping those numbers to continue climbing.

"I can actually say we got everything we asked for," she said.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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Ex-Marshall baseball standout promoted by Nationals http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150628/DM03/150629197 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150628/DM03/150629197 Sun, 28 Jun 2015 20:43:50 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Former Marshall University baseball standout Isaac Ballou, a prospect in the Washington Nationals minor league system, was promoted to the double-A Harrisburg Senators on Sunday.

Ballou, an outfielder, batted .249 with three home runs, 25 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases in 70 games with the high-A Potomac Nationals this season. While at Marshall, Ballou was a 2013 All-Conference USA first team selection and owns school records for triples in a career, triples in a season, walks in a career and walks in a season. He also is second all-time in school history with 64 stolen bases in addition to being fourth all-time at MU in hits (211), at-bats (722) and runs scored (144).

Harrisburg is 33-41 this season and is nine games back of Eastern League division leader Altoona.

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Herd gets two more football commitments http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150628/DM03/150629198 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150628/DM03/150629198 Sun, 28 Jun 2015 20:41:00 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Marshall's football team picked up a pair of verbal commitments over the weekend, including one from one of Kentucky's top players.

Running back Quinton Baker of Paul Blazer High in Ashland, Ky., hinted on Twitter on Saturday night that he would pledge to the Thundering Herd. He eliminated the mystery on the social media site Sunday morning, reaffirming his verbal commitment.

Baker, at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, is a three-star prospect according to Rivals, 247Sports, ESPN and Scout. Rivals and 247Sports both list him as the fifth-best prospect in Kentucky. He's the 15th overall all-purpose back in 247Sports' eyes and 17th overall according to Rivals.

Baker's commitment was preceded Saturday by a verbal commitment from Point Pleasant star Cody Mitchell. The 6-2, 220-pound Mitchell is the younger brother of former Marshall football player Derek Mitchell and son of former WVU football player Darrell Mitchell. He played running back and safety last season for Point Pleasant, but is listed on the Rivals recruiting charts as a tight end and Scout's as a linebacker.

He's rated three stars by Scout and two stars by Rivals, which ranks him the No. 4 overall prospect in West Virginia. Verbal commitments are non-binding. Football players can sign letters of intent beginning Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.

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Marshall gets verbal commitments from pair of S.C. corners http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150625/DM03/150629335 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150625/DM03/150629335 Thu, 25 Jun 2015 23:07:01 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Marshall picked up verbal commitments Thursday from a pair of defensive backs from the same high school. Hilton Head Island (S.C.) High School corners Jestin Morrow and Jeremiah Maddox both announced on their Twitter feeds that they had pledged to the Thundering Herd.

Morrow is a 5-foot-10, 160-pound two-star prospect according to Rivals.com, and had offers from Charlotte, Purdue and Toledo, among others. The 6-foot, 180-pound Maddox also is a Rivals two-star athlete with offers from Purdue, Toledo, Charlotte and Ohio, among others.

Verbal commitments are non-binding. Football players can sign their letters of intent beginning Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015.

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Chuck McGill: Marshall's schedule draws ire, but plan is solid http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150625/DM03/150629344 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150625/DM03/150629344 Thu, 25 Jun 2015 21:03:52 -0400 If the announcement of the Marshall-Appalachian State football series could've been reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes, it certainly would've received a rotten rating.

The reviews rolled in after the two-game series - to be played in 2021 and 2022 - was unveiled Wednesday afternoon in a joint release by the schools. Thundering Herd fans offered these responses on the social media website Twitter: Terrible. Boring. Extremely underwhelmed. Horrible.

"I feel dumb for expecting anything more than it was," tweeted another dissatisfied fan.

The sweeping negative reviews had me mulling one question - why the disappointment? The Marshall football program is obviously thriving, with its 23 wins the past two seasons, two conference championship game appearances, one conference championship, two bowl wins and two double-digit win seasons. The Herd appeared in the top 25 poll for the first time since cameras were added to cell phones (2002).

But, of course, last year's uninspiring non-conference schedule, which was written about ad nauseum as Marshall made a push to be the Group of Five representative in one of college football's six top-tier bowl games, is still fresh.

Understood, but every series announcement isn't going to be a Power Five program. Five of the 13 scheduled non-conference games over the next four seasons are Power Five schools, three of which (Purdue in 2015, Louisville in 2016 and North Carolina State in 2018) are coming to Huntington to play. That's a tough scheduling maneuver to pull in today's college football, especially as the Power Five/Group of Five split continues to widen and present new sets of challenges to athletic directors.

Shoot, even Atlantic Coast Conference members - obviously a target of Marshall AD Mike Hamrick in scheduling with the home-and-home deals signed with Pitt and N.C. State - are eschewing traditional scheduling practices and locking horns with each other.

UNC and Wake Forest, longtime ACC opponents, negotiated a two-game contract in January to play in 2019 and 2021, when they don't play each other in conference play. Those are programs that seem to fall within Hamrick's geographical target area - in-state, bordering states and states that border bordering states.

Appalachian State, FBS newcomers who take a six-game win streak into the 2015 season, is located in Boone, N.C., and falls into that category. The same goes for other series signed by Marshall within the last few years. The Herd has played or will play non-conference games against teams from bordering states Pennsylvania (Pitt), Ohio (Akron, Bowling Green, Kent State, Miami, Ohio and Ohio State), Virginia (Virginia Tech), Kentucky (Louisville) and Maryland (Navy).

That is imperative because of Conference USA's large geographical footprint. Typically the final eight games of the season are Conference USA games, perhaps against teams as far away as Florida, Texas and Mississippi. The goal is to have four fan-friendly non-conference games, either at home or nearby.

Wednesday's collective ire also seemed stoked slightly by a separate college football schedule announcement: Toledo's home and home contract with Brigham Young. How are the Rockets able to lock down a contract with a program perceived as a premium opponent while the Herd lands a deal with the lesser of the Mountaineers?

Well, Toledo plays in the Mid-American Conference, the Herd's old league, and not only has seven games at home, but three other games in the state of Ohio or bordering states. That's 10 games for Rockets fans to watch their team at home or close by, so it's easier to stomach a long non-conference trip.

That said, the schedule-makers in Huntington are looking past the Mississippi River and outside the Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences for future opponents. Don't be surprised if one of the better programs in the Mountain West or teams from the American Athletic Conference appear in future schedules.

There is great incentive for Marshall - and Conference USA - to play and defeat the top teams from the Mountain West and American, the other top Group of Five leagues. There is a $60 million pot distributed equally between those three leagues, the MAC and the Sun Belt ($12 million per conference), but also another $15 million that is divvied up based on conference rankings (determined by computer ratings).

Last season, the first of the new College Football Playoff format, the Mountain West finished first overall, followed by Conference USA and the American. That gave C-USA about $1.2 million more than the AAC based on those computer rankings.

If Marshall can help elevate the league, more money will go into the C-USA coffers and be redistributed to the Herd.

So, yes, the Power Five announcements probably generate more excitement. There is more thrill in entertaining the thoughts of knocking off a Power Five program than a MAC or Sun Belt school.

But there's certainly room on the schedule each year for both, whether there are rave reviews or rotten.

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Marshall, Appalachian State announce 2-game football series http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150624/DM03/150629527 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150624/DM03/150629527 Wed, 24 Jun 2015 15:34:31 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON - Marshall's football team will renew an old rivalry from its days in the Southern Conference in 2021 and 2022.

The university announced Wednesday that the Thundering Herd will visit Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., on Sept. 25, 2021, and the Mountaineers will visit Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022.

"It is great to get Appalachian State back onto our schedule and with that, we can give our fans another drivable road game," Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick said in a university release. "Appalachian has a wonderful tradition and is already one of the top teams in the Sun Belt Conference."

The Herd and Mountaineers faced off 22 times from 1977-2002, most of those coming when the two teams resided in Division I-AA, now the Football Championship Subdivision. ASU leads the series, 14-8.

"The Appalachian-Marshall rivalry still holds a special place in the hearts of Mountaineer fans," ASU athletic director Doug Gillin said.

Marshall made the jump to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1997, and Appalachian State finally followed suit last season, but not before winning three straight FCS national titles in 2005-07. The Mountaineers are considered the Sun Belt favorites by Sporting News, Lindy's and ESPN. ASU went 7-5 overall and 6-2 in the conference in it inaugural season.

Marshall now has three non-conference games set for the 2021 season - at Navy on Sept. 4, home versus East Carolina on Sept. 11 and the ASU game. The 2022 home game with the Mountaineers joins a home game with Navy on that season's schedule.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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Marshall dismisses DE Jerome Dews http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150622/DM03/150629723 DM03 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20150622/DM03/150629723 Mon, 22 Jun 2015 23:09:44 -0400 Marshall football

FROM STAFF REPORTS

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall defensive end Jerome Dews' tenure with the Thundering Herd lasted less than a year. The university confirmed Monday that Dews had been dismissed from Herd for team rules violations.

The former University of Tennessee verbal commitment was a three-star linebacker prospect out of Potomac High School in Oxon Hill, Md. The 6-foot-4, 201-pounder practiced at safety and linebacker before settling in at end. He played in six games last season and recorded two tackles.

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