This isn’t a usual Green-White game.
On the contrary, it is very unusual. Besides the fact that Marshall University’s spring football game will be played indoors at the Chris Cline Athletic Complex at 3 p.m. Saturday instead of outdoors in Joan C. Edwards Stadium, there are other unusual circumstances.
For example, heir-apparent starting quarterback Henry Colombi won’t be competing. The same is true of star running back Raheem Ali.
So, when it comes to naming the top offensive and defensive players of spring ball, the competition is wide open.
And guess who made the most of it.
Take a bow, Jayden Harrison, the offensive award winner, and Isaiah Gibson Sr., the defensive winner.
Harrison is a 5-foot-11, 199-pound redshirt sophomore wide receiver. He caught 23 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns in 2021 and had a 99-yard kickoff return for a TD in a 28-13 win over FAU.
The Vanderbilt transfer has gotten bigger, stronger and more confident during spring drills.
“Jayden has started to really catch the ball in contested situations more consistently,” said MU head coach Charles Huff. “That’s what you’ve got to be able to do, right? The quarterback has to have trust in you.
“In this league [Sun Belt Conference] that we’re going to, we’re not going to have many wide-open catches.”
That’s why Harrison got noticeably bigger and stronger in the offseason.
“I gained about 10 pounds,” he said. “I come to get better every day. I work on my technique. There’s always a possible way to get better. I look to get better every day.
“I learn from my teammates. I learn from being coachable. And that’s one thing I need to work on — to make catches. Tough catches.”
Then there’s Gibson. The 6-3, 309-pound redshirt sophomore defensive tackle was often dominant during live portions of spring scrimmages. The University of Kentucky transfer was unstoppable at times.
“Yeah, man, I am trying to get there,” said Gibson. “I am still working. I think the thing I really had to work on this spring was my first step. So, I’ve been trying to work on that with [defensive line] Coach [Ralph] Street.
“And then just playing the run first and then trying to transition, and then just take on double-teams like I did at Kentucky. Just hold down the inside and do what I have to do. I can say I’ve been pretty dominant, but I can say I’ve still got some work to do as far as everything goes.”
But all the pieces are there — the size, demeanor and physicality.
“He is a strong, powerful inside guy, and he has got twitch,” said Huff. “He’s not one of these guys that can only go straight ahead or falls down every time somebody moves around him. He’s got twitch. He’s got really good balance and body control. And he’s strong.”
Better yet, Gibson feels much more at home at Marshall than he did in Lexington, Kentucky.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “I made the transition. It’s not as big as Lexington or as flashy or anything, but they gave me everything I needed to come in and feel right at home within the first two months, so I think it is all good. I’m a lot happier here.”
Two transfers and two success stories.
That’s what spring practice is all about.