HUNTINGTON — At 12:47 p.m. Wednesday, Marshall safety Derrek Pitts Jr. tweeted out one word that everyone had waited all of the preseason to hear on the former South Charleston High product.
“Eligible,” the tweet said with hands in prayer as the emoji offsetting it.
The 6-foot, 189-pound junior from South Charleston and former West Virginia University defensive back brings definite playmaking ability to a safety spot where the Thundering Herd lost Malik Gant, who is currently with the New England Patriots in training camp.
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said he was pleased with the news on Pitts, but now the talented junior must earn it on the field.
“We’re happy it worked out in his favor and now we look forward to him getting ready to go play,” Holliday said Wednesday.
Holliday said the dynamic doesn’t necessarily change for Pitts, who had been practicing with the team since preseason camp opened and has positioned himself to be ready should he be eligible. In the first scrimmage of preseason camp, Pitts made a pair of defensive plays in run support that signaled that he was ready to get to work.
Holliday said maintaining that edge now that he’s officially eligible is key.
“He’s practiced like he’s playing and he’s gotten repetitions like he’s playing,” Holliday said. “Now that he is, he’s just got to turn it up a notch and understand that it’s all about preparation and getting ready to go play. He’s got to go to work every day like everyone else.”
While with the Mountaineers, Pitts played in 19 career games, starting two, both of which came in 2018.
Pitts finished the 2018 season with 27 tackles, including five tackles for loss and one sack to go along with one interception and four pass breakups. He also forced one fumble.
Pitts came out of spring camp as a starting safety for the Mountaineers but opted to transfer and entered the NCAA transfer portal June 5. On June 19, MetroNews first reported that Pitts was enrolled at Marshall. Pitts was, indeed, on the field and ready to go on Marshall’s first day of camp on Aug. 2.
While the news was positive on Pitts, Holliday also said that the team is still awaiting word on fellow safety Quinton Jordan, a graduate transfer from Charlotte.
Jordan’s NCAA waiver is still pending, meaning his status for next week’s season opener against VMI is unknown.
“He’s practicing as if he’s going to play. That’s the only way we can do it right now,” Holliday said. “Just practice like you’re going to play and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for that one as well.”