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Marshall football: Herd seeking aggressive defenders

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said that whoever his new defensive coordinator may be come January, he'll be helming an aggressive group.

By National Signing Day on Feb. 6, the Thundering Herd hopes to have a recruiting class that includes defenders who fit that mold.

The Herd is looking to add players at some aggressive positions.

Marshall would like at least two safeties and possibly a linebacker, and wants to fortify its pass rush with at least one defensive end.

Safety may be the greatest concern after the departure of graduate students Okechukwu Okoroha and Dominick LeGrande.

There's a benefit to bringing in one-year transfers like LeGrande and Okoroha to fill needs at safety.

The two former Boston College players immediately became integral parts of the defense. LeGrande was named to the All-Conference USA second team, while Okoroha earned honorable mention.

Then there's the drawback to the one-year transfer. The Thundering Herd got only one year of work from them before it had to fill the void again.

In losing LeGrande and Okoroha, the Herd is losing its top two tacklers from 2012. LeGrande led the team with 132 stops, while Okoroha had 108. The two started all 12 games, and their effectiveness gave their backups little time to gain much on-field experience.

Redshirt freshmen Corie Wilson and Shawn Samuels backed up both LeGrande at strong safety and Okoroha at free safety. Samuels and Wilson each played seven games in 2012. Samuels recorded four tackles and Wilson recorded two.

Marshall filled one of those safety holes by signing Holmes (Miss.) Community College's Taj Letman. At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Letman is a three-star prospect according to Rivals who runs a 4.43-second 40-yard dash.

He also has three years of eligibility remaining after a finger injury shelved him for 2012.

The Herd could get some more immediate help with verbal commitment Stefan Houston of Fork Union Military Academy. The 6-3, 220-pound safety/outside linebacker could help at both positions, a dual role the Daily Mail has learned the Herd is seeking.

He plans on enrolling in January, though he'll have to wait for test scores to see if he's immediately eligible.

The Herd found its defensive end in below-the-radar mid-year signee Arnold Blackmon. The 6-2, 235-pounder from Navarro College in Texas went from a 218-pound high school senior with no Division I offers to an end that led the Southwest Junior College Football Conference with 21 tackles for loss and was second with eight sacks.

There also are a handful of players who already are on campus as academic non-qualifiers who should boost Marshall's defense.

Two of those players - linebacker Kent Turene and corner Corey Tindal - will be on scholarship this spring. Turene was the nation's No. 18 inside linebacker according to Rivals and originally signed with Georgia. Tindal is a Rivals three-star corner who originally signed with Florida International.

Marshall's corner situation already looked solid with Derrick Thomas, Keith Baxter and Monterius Lovett all returning and A.J. Leggett (knee) and Darryl Roberts (ankle) coming back from injury. But adding Tindal could give the Herd enough depth to move a corner to safety to help with numbers there. Holliday said last week moving a corner was an option.

Two more non-qualifier defenders - defensive ends Josh Brown and Gary Thompson - should be eligible by the start of preseason practice.

Brown was the No. 19 overall recruit in South Carolina out of South Aiken High and originally signed with Clemson. Thompson was a Rivals two-star end who signed with Marshall in February, but had to come in as a non-qualifier.

 Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at or 304-348-1712. His blog is at Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.


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