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Marshall football: Van moves to secondary

HOUSTON – Travon Van, Marshall's leading rusher, will move to the defensive backfield before today's game at Rice, according to sources. 

The 5-foot-10, 193-pound redshirt sophomore started at running back for the Thundering Herd's first three games of the season. He totaled 93 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries in a rotation that has included redshirt freshmen Remi Watson, Kevin Grooms and Steward Butler. He led Marshall with 13 carries in last Saturday's loss to Ohio, but gained just 15 yards, an average of 1.2 yards a carry.

That means the Herd's top two rushers from last season, Van and leading rusher Tron Martinez, are gone from Marshall's backfield. Martinez is still trying to recover from offseason knee surgery and Coach Doc Holliday said Tuesday it is unlikely he will see the field in 2012. Martinez and Van combined for 1,200 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2011.

That likely leaves the bulk of Marshall's carries to Watson, Grooms and Butler, each of whom averages more yards per carry than Van's 2.4. Against Ohio, Watson had two carries for 10 yards, Butler had one carry for two yards and Grooms did not touch the ball.

This won't be Van's first foray in a secondary. As a senior at Helix High School in San Diego, Calif., he intercepted seven passes. Both Miami and Southern California had offered Van a scholarship as a cornerback. He also spent time on defense at Milford Academy before coming to Marshall.

The Herd could use the help in the defensive backfield. True freshman A.J. Leggett, a four-star recruit from South Miami High, was lost for the year following shoulder surgery prior to Marshall's win over Western Carolina. Marshall's depth chart currently lists Penn State transfer Derrick Thomas as the backup for both Monterius Lovett and Keith Baxter.


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