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Huffspring

Marshall head football coach Charles Huff walks the field as he observes the Herd’s spring game April 17 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — There was a reason why Marshall football head coach Charles Huff elected to give his current players time off following the Thundering Herd’s spring game in April.

Huff and his staff spent the entire month of May gearing up for June, when the college football world would return to recruiting.

Now that June is upon us, Huff can’t stress enough how important the next few weeks are.

In Huff’s opinion, the next three to four weeks can impact the next three to four years and maybe even beyond for Marshall’s program.

“I think this is the most important 28 days in college football in the last two years,” Huff said. “I mean these are beyond critical for not only your senior class, but your 2023s and on down the road.”

Following the spring game, Huff elected to give his team the month of May off — a two-fold proposition.

Not only did the players get a chance to relax a bit after the rigors and daily grind of playing through a 2020 season hampered by COVID-19, but the coaching staff also got a full month to look at prospects and whittle down who they wanted to target the most while building a recruiting game plan.

On Sunday, Huff’s recruiting push took another step forward when the program hosted the first of several high school camps set for this month.

Dozens of prospects descended on Joan C. Edwards Stadium in an effort to catch the eye of Huff and his staff, which brought about a relieving sense of normalcy to what has been the craziest 15-month period in college football within the last 50 years.

“I think it’s a sign we’re getting back to normal, which is what we all want,” Huff said. “Obviously, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting there and getting back to our normal routine as a football coach. We’ve had to adjust so much, and no one had the blueprint — it was all trial and error. Now we’re getting back to what we normally do and how we normally process.”

During the pandemic, virtual tours of campus and video recruiting were the norm, but Huff said there’s a lot to be said for seeing a prospect face-to-face and getting to see him live while evaluating him physically and mentally in certain situations.

“Ultimately, this is the first time we’ve gotten to see these guys in person, first time to look in their eye, see their growth,” Huff said. “You can watch Hudl or Zoom and you can’t tell if a kid is 6-1 or 6-foot, so getting them here to talk to them or see how big their shoulders are, how they put on weight, it’s really important.”

Huff said the return to normalcy is not just good for Marshall’s program, but for college football as a whole. He envisions the product seen in 2021 and beyond to improve greatly now that the routine has normalized to an extent.

“I think ultimately what you’re going to see over the next year, year and a half is more consistency in programs because college football coaches are doing what they’ve done for the last 20-30 years of their life,” Huff said.

Huff added that the importance for Marshall’s football program, given its changes over the last few months, is exponential, which is again why he said it’s the most vital month the program has seen in a long time from a recruiting standpoint.

“Especially for us with a new staff, we’ve made some changes here on campus facility-wise and mentality-wise, so being able to get the kids here to see that and feel that is crucial,” Huff said. “It’s one thing to be on Twitter or be on the phone and it’s another to get here and feel the passion and energy that Marshall and the town of Huntington has created. I think it’s a positive that will help some of these recruits make better decisions.”

Marshall’s one-day high school camps are set for June 12, 19 and 26 — each a Sunday — to allow prospects to make the trip to Huntington to participate at Joan C. Edwards Stadium and the Chris Cline Indoor Athletic Complex.