HUNTINGTON — Mark Brookover, a member of Marshall University’s Young Thundering Herd football team, died Thursday. He was 66.
Brookover, a former offensive lineman, died of complications from kidney problems and related ailments. He started 42 of 44 games for the Young Thundering Herd between 1972 and 1975 and was a captain in his senior season.
A three-sport star at Morgan County (Ohio) High School, Brookover was recruited to Marshall by head coach Jack Lengyel and offensive line coach Jim McNally. Often referred to as a “gentle giant,” Brookover was one of just two Herd players in 1975 over 300 pounds.
“He had great speed to go with his size,” Marshall historian Woody Woodrum said. “He became a feared softball hitter in leagues in Huntington and the surrounding area. I truly will miss my former roomie, friend and brother from another mother.”
Woodrum’s brother Jim said he, too, will miss Brookover.
“Brook was an original,” Jim Woodrum said. “He was fiercely loyal to his friends and not very nice to his enemies. A great softball player, a great teammate and a great friend.”
Young Herd quarterback Dave Walsh said he has fond memories of his former teammate.
“He was funny,” Walsh said of Brookover. “He was a good guy, fun to be around. He was a load to try to run around. I hate to lose him.”
Mark Harvey, a Marshall graduate and friend of Brookover, said he enjoyed his time with the former Herd offensive lineman.
“He was an original and a great guy,” Harvey said.
Former Marshall wrestler Charlie Perry remembered Brookover fondly.
“I hate to hear this,” Perry said. “He was a gentle, soft-spoken man.”
Brookover will be remembered in a private ceremony Monday near his home in Florida.
EYE ON CBS: Saturday marked Marshall’s first football game on CBS Sports’ main network since Dec. 18, 1993, when the Herd lost 17-5 to Youngstown State at then-Marshall Stadium in the NCAA Division I-AA national championship game.
Saturday’s kickoff was delayed for five minutes at the request of CBS, which produced a touching remembrance of the Marshall team that died in a plane crash on Nov. 14, 1970.
FAMILIAR FLORIDIANS: Saturday’s game allowed some former high school teammates from Florida to become reacquainted.
Marshall running back Knowledge McDaniel and offensive lineman Alex Salguero and Appalachian State quarterback Jacob Huesman and offensive lineman Ryan Neuzil played at Braden River High School in Bradenton. Herd cornerback Jaylon McClain-Sapp and Mountaineer running back Mike Smith both played at First Coast High in Jacksonville.
MU defensive back Brandon Drayton and ASU linebacker Logan Doublin played at Largo High in Clearwater. Marshall tight end Xavier Gaines and Appalachian State offensive lineman Lyle Hiers played at Lake Wales High. Herd wide receiver Artie Henry and Mountaineers tight end August Drews are out of Sarasota High.
ROUNDING UP: The officials for Saturday’s game were from the Big 12. They were busy, calling 14 penalties just in the first half.
Saturday was Marshall freshman defensive lineman Jayshaun Coffman’s birthday.
The Herd entered Saturday’s contest having lost 16 consecutive games vs. opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Marshall’s last victory over a ranked foe was Sept. 20, 2003, when the Herd beat Kansas State 27-20 on the road. Marshall’s only other wins over Top 25 squads came Dec. 27, 1999 in the Motor City Bowl when it beat No. 25 BYU 21-3 in Pontiac, Michigan, and 1976 when it upset 20th-ranked Miami (Ohio), 21-16 on Sept. 11, 1976 at Fairfield Stadium.
Herd defensive back Steven Gilmore was called for interference twice in the same drive, but then intercepted a pass later in the same possession to stop an Appalachian State drive deep in Marshall territory with less than one minute left in the first half and MU ahead 10-7.