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Marshall football: Senior wide receivers lead the way for Herd

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Need to corral the Marshall University football team's seniors for something?

It's not that tough. Almost half of them are sitting in the wide receivers meeting room.

On a team where nearly every unit is stacked with young players, the receivers can say they have an ample supply of senior leadership.

Of the Thundering Herd's eight senior players, three - Aaron Dobson, Antavious Wilson and Andre Booker - are among the wideouts.

It's a blessing, but it's also a lot of pressure. The trio has the experience and knowledge to help keep the passing game going, but they also know that growing pains are out the window as an excuse.

The fact hasn't been lost on any of them, Dobson said.

"We've been talking about that," he said. "In the offseason we were talking about that. We talk about it a lot, what we need to do to be leaders in the receiving room and for the offense and for the whole team."

Marshall threw for 2,773 yards and 22 touchdowns last season.

Dobson, Wilson and Booker accounted for 1,246 of those receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

Being a little less than half of the team's receiving yards and more than half its receiving touchdowns is important. The nine combined seasons of playing experience may be more important.

Wilson said the three embrace their responsibility as elder statesmen, and are happy to impart their wisdom on the Herd's younger receivers.

"It's been really good for me to look back when I was a freshman and have those senior guys helping me the same way," he said. "I'm trying to do the same for these guys."

Receivers coach Gerad Parker said the three have done well in becoming teachers on and off the field. Parker had dialed himself back a little this year and allowed Dobson, Wilson and Booker to gain a voice in the meeting room.

"I've had to back off what I say and let those guys talk and let those guys teach," Parker said. "When you're teaching with your peers and those guys are the leaders of the team instead of me always having to do it, you're a better football team for it."

Parker also said he's fortunate in that all three seniors play a different position. Wilson is the "right" receiver, while Dobson is the "left" and Booker is the "H" or slot receiver.

The three don't monopolize one position and it spreads the experience to every receiver spot.

"It's very unique," Parker said. "I know right now I can hang my hat on those guys and if we play three wideouts, I'm very comfortable. It's good to be a wideout coach here."

It's also pretty good to be quarterback Rakeem Cato.

The sophomore knows he can have veteran at every receiver spot and not worry about constantly breaking in a rookie. Dobson said the benefits go both ways.

"Sometimes he sees something we don't see," Dobson said. "Sometimes we see something he doesn't see. We always talk and I feel we have great connections out there."

They play different positions and they have different personalities - Booker is a fierier teammate, while Dobson is growing as a vocal leader and Wilson leads mainly by example. But they all know their experience comes with great expectations.

"There can't be many mistakes," Booker said. "We take that as motivation. We've got the young guys wanting to be like us and they learn from us. This means a lot."

 Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.


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