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Herd QB recruit spends spring break in Huntington

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - He had on green warmup pants, not board shorts. A brisk Huntington day necessitated a sweatshirt in lieu of a swim shirt.  

Instead of a white sandy beach, incoming Marshall football recruit Gunnar Holcombe had nothing but artificial blades of grass and black rubber pellets beneath his feet as he walked around the Edwards Stadium turf last week.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native shrugged his shoulders at the seafood and the surf and spent the week sauntering around at Herd football practice.

Not the standard Spring Break for a teenager, right?

Holcombe, who is projected to play quarterback at Marshall, should benefit from his decision.

Marshall initially had a verbal commitment from Seabreeze High signal caller Trenton Norvell, who reneged on that pledge and went to Cincinnati. A perk of landing Norvell was his plan to graduate high school early and enroll in January.

That would have given Coach Doc Holliday's Herd three scholarship quarterbacks during spring drills.

But Norvell changed his mind in December and Holcombe slid into MU's Class of 2012 QB vacancy. Holcombe, however, would not be able to be a midyear enrollee like Norvell.

So, the idea to spend his week's worth of respite from schoolwork obligations in the mountains was born.

But, what exactly could Holcombe do at a spring practice?

"Just as much as a sportswriter can do," Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg said.

No, Holcombe couldn't throw and ease the strain on the arm of Rakeem Cato, who is the only truly healthy QB option with Blake Frohnapfel working his way back from offseason labrum surgery.

"Anytime a kid comes on an unofficial visit and even though he's a signee, he is still a prospective student-athlete because he hasn't started school yet," Legg said. "He came all this way and has to pay his own way and feed himself, but he can be around the building, visit with coaches, sit in on meetings and watch practice."

That's a huge plus, right?

"Absolutely," Legg said. "He's getting exposed to the things that he's going to be asked to learn when he comes here for good, so that will accelerate his timetable."

* * * 

FORMER HERD quarterback Eddie Sullivan, on the other hand, spent his spring in Cullowhee, N.C.

Sullivan transferred to Western Carolina after spending two seasons at Marshall. He played as a true freshman in 2010 and redshirted last season before leaving the program with two games left of the regular season.

He is immediately eligible because he transferred down a level to the Football Championship Subdivision and the Southern Conference. He is also the Catamounts' new starting quarterback.

Sullivan and three other QBs split snaps in WCU's spring game last Saturday, but Sullivan received the most reps and completed 17-of-27 passes for 207 yards. He also rushed 13 times for 54 yards and completed all but one of his final 12 throws, with the one incompletion coming on a throwaway.

If Sullivan hangs onto the gig through fall camp, he'll start against his former teammates Sept. 8 when Western Carolina plays at Marshall in the Herd's home opener.

* * *

FIRST, I found myself tickled at the thought of 6-foot-10 Tulsa Coach Danny Manning standing next to Marshall Coach Tom Herrion at the Henderson Center in the upcoming basketball season.

Now it appears Manning's college coach, Larry Brown, will oppose Herrion, too.

Reports have swirled that Brown, 71, plans to return to the college game at Southern Methodist. He lasted coached in college in 1988 when he led Kansas to a national championship with Manning as his star player.

Marshall played at Tulsa and SMU last season, so those schools will visit Huntington this year.  

The Kansas flavor in Conference USA doesn't stop with Manning and Brown.

Multiple media outlets reported Wednesday that Illinois State Coach Tim Jankovich, a former Jayhawks assistant, was expected to join Brown at SMU and be a coach-in waiting.

In March, former Kansas point guard and assistant coach Jerod Haase left Roy Williams' North Carolina staff to become the head coach at UAB, where he will replace 2010-11 C-USA Coach of the Year Mike Davis.

Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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