HUNTINGTON — Marshall offensive lineman Alex Mollette was all smiles as he took the field Thursday.
That, in itself, was a good sign for the Thundering Herd’s offensive front.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound junior from Georgia admitted that smiles were somewhat hard to come by during the long nine-month period in which he missed action after tearing his ACL last September.
Still, Mollette credited the support system around him — his friends, family, coaches and girlfriend — for keeping him mentally on task despite his physical limitations during rehabilitation.
“It’s been a tough nine months,” Mollette said. “It’s very trying, but we have great trainers and coaches that kept me going and my friends, family and girlfriend stayed on my butt and made sure that I was getting back where I need to be. Now, I feel better than ever.”
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said Mollette looks better than ever, which is a welcome sight after a long layoff that kept him out of workouts until late July when doctors cleared him.
“He’s a great kid,” Holliday said. “He came back and didn’t look like he’s missed a beat. We’re glad he’s back and we can keep him rolling because he’s a really good player that’s going to help us.”
From the beginning of camp, Mollette has said he felt well enough to go 100 percent, which is a positive in the early weeks since the injury. Still, Holliday and the staff are being careful not to overload him with snaps in camp, so they have Mollette on somewhat of a “pitch count” as camp progresses.
On Wednesday, Mollette got treatment and did not participate in camp to minimize the wear and tear on his knee.
Despite the day off, Mollette’s happiness to be back competing among his teammates resonates, as is evident when speaking to him about the best aspect of returning.
“Being able to actually come out and practice,” Mollette said. “You take a lot of things for granted, but coming back, it was the most fun ever just flying around and getting to joke around and go to work with my second family again.”
Mollette’s demeanor is positive — an aspect that Holliday really likes in the junior, who is lining up at guard right now.
Even though it was tough for him to sit out, Mollette said the experience was a positive for the team as well.
“Cain [Madden] did really, really well last year and I knew after we got hurt that we were in good hands because he’s a phenomenal football player,” Mollette said.
Now, Mollette and Madden are each lining up at the guard spots for the Herd, which gives Marshall Football Bowl Subdivision starting experience at all five positions along the offensive front.
With that type of experience, Mollette said that the sky is the limit for the offensive line, but it is on them as a unit to reach that potential.
“We absolutely sense it, but we have to go out and make things happen,” Mollette said. “Nothing is going to be given to us. Experience means nothing if you don’t do anything with it. We have to go out there and make sure that we are the best every day.”