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Chuck McGill: Purging the notebook, just in case

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - In case the world does come to a screeching halt today, here are a few items that have been burning a hole in my reporter's pad.

• The junior college signing period was good to West Virginia University, which announced four signings Thursday afternoon.

Much to the chagrin of Mountaineer fans, I'm sure, is the fact that three of the four are offensive skill players. Frankly, there are needs on both sides of the ball.

WVU ranked No. 8 in total offense and No. 6 in passing offense, but a record-setting quarterback (Geno Smith) and the two most productive receivers (Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey) are exiting the program.

The JUCO signing period began Wednesday, and the Mountaineers landed receivers Ronald Carswell (6-foot, 180 pounds) of Itawamba Community College and Kevin White (6-4, 210) of Lackawanna College.

Dreamius Smith, a 5-10, 215-pound running back from Butler Community College who had offers from several Big 12 schools and Boise State, also signed.

The one defensive addition is Terrell Pinson, a 6-3, 200-pound safety from Itawamba Community College. He carried an SEC offer from Mississippi State.

• Geno Smith has 11,461 passing yards entering the Dec. 29 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

The early forecast for the matchup with Syracuse in Bronx, N.Y., is 37 degrees and partly cloudy. If Smith can put up big numbers through the brisk air, he could surpass some notable names on college football's all-time passing list.

Smith ranks No. 26 on the list, but is 297 yards from tying Marshall great Byron Leftwich for No. 21.

Current NFL quarterbacks Brady Quinn, who went to Notre Dame, and Russell Wilson, who starred at N.C. State and Wisconsin, are in between Leftwich and Smith on the list.

• Marshall's Rakeem Cato won't get the opportunity to add to his 4,201 passing yards, the most in the FBS regular season. The Herd is not bowling.

Cato's passing total, however, was the 46th-best total in college football history and just 88 yards shy of last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III. RG3 had an extra game, though.

If Cato simply duplicates his sophomore numbers the next two seasons, he'll finish with 14,662 yards for his four-year career. He could improve, of course, and that doesn't include any postseason games.

• The Thundering Herd men's basketball team has its fourth and final scheduled game against a team from a power (BCS) league this Saturday. Marshall will travel to Kentucky, where the Herd will surely play in front of one of the largest crowds in program history.

The Daily Mail's Jody Jividen traveled to Rupp Arena to cover the Dec. 27, 1994 game between Marshall and UK. The Wildcats won handily, 116-75, and 23,782 were in attendance.

That's the largest announced attendance ever for a Marshall hoops game.

This season, the defending national champion Wildcats are averaging 22,071 in seven home games. Kentucky has finished first or second nationally in attendance every year since 1977, and has been tops in attendance six consecutive seasons.

• The turnover-prone Herd, which doesn't have highly touted point guard Kareem Canty (academically ineligible) or leading assist man DeAndre Kane (broken right hand), received a backcourt boost Thursday.

Kelvin Amayo, a rare mid-year academic non-qualifier, practiced for the first time Thursday after gaining eligibility.

There should be no expectation of an immediate contribution here. Amayo wasn't allowed to practice with the team and is a walk-on. But the extra body in the backcourt can't hurt.

Marshall (7-5) ranks No. 220 nationally in turnovers per game (14.9).

Amayo is 6-4 and has a linebacker's build.

• Saturday's MU-UK game in Lexington, Ky., is the eighth of an 11-game stretch where Marshall plays only in West Virginia or bordering states.

The Herd plays at Kentucky this Saturday and at Ohio on Jan. 5.

This relatively travel-free stretch started Nov. 19, the day Marshall returned from a three-day trip to Hempstead, N.Y. The next team flight will be for the Jan. 12 conference road opener against the University of Texas at El Paso.

Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.


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