HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Marshall football team reeled in a huge and well-regarded 2013 recruiting class, one that at least one recruiting site considers one of the top 50 in America.
The Thundering Herd announced 29 new players today, 12 who already have enrolled at Marshall and 17 who signed letters of intent beginning this morning. The recruiting site 247Sports, which uses a composite rating system that includes all the recruiting sites, ranks the Herd's 2013 class 48th in the country. It is the highest ranking for a school in a non-BCS automatic qualifier conference.
The biggest surprise of the day was Marshall snagging Miami-Booker T. Washington safety Michael Johnson, who had been a verbal commitment to Florida State University. Johnson is a four-star recruit according to ESPN and was rated the country's No. 27 safety prospect according to Rivals.
Among the other signees rated four stars by at least one recruiting service are receivers Angelo Jean-Louis and Deontay McManus and linebacker Stefan Houston from Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia; safety D'Andre "Chocolate" Wilson from Myrtle Beach (S.C.) High; linebacker Jeremiah Benjamin from Hollywood (Fla.) McArthur High; and linebacker Kent Turene from Atlanta Sports Academy.
This recruiting class was heavy on defensive players and offensive linemen. The Herd looked to fortify an offensive line that is improving, but will begin losing some key players to graduation. It also spent a lot of time trying to fix a defense that finished 101st in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense and 119th in scoring defense.
The Herd also signed six receivers, as it lost three seniors – Aaron Dobson, Antavious Wilson and Andre Snipes-Booker – to graduation. Among them are two Penn State transfers – Devon Smith, who enrolled at Marshall this past fall and sat out the 2012 season, and Shawney Kersey.
Marshall Coach Doc Holliday will hold a National Signing Day press conference today at 4:30 p.m. Biographical information of all 29 signees and highlight videos of most of them can be found at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.
-- Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.