"They want to see a physical corner," he said. "I feel I'm a physical-type of corner, so I'm going to try to go in and be as physical as possible and also use my speed."
Linebacker Neville Hewitt, on the other hand, was spurred to sign with Marshall after watching last year's defense. He saw the Herd's 44-41 win over Houston, a game Marshall led 31-10 at halftime. He watched Marshall's defense force the Cougars into four three-and-out situations on their first five drives of the game. He also watched Houston erupt for 282 yards and 31 points in the second half.
"I've seen where I can make a difference on the defense," Hewitt said. "And (Heater) came down to talk to me the other day, and the way he was describing the defense to me and my role in the defense, it felt comfortable to me."
Hewitt recorded 65 tackles and five pass breakups last season as a safety/linebacker hybrid at Georgia Military College. He was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN. He wants to immediately help a Herd team with which he's already built a close relationship.
"I've got a family relationship with Coach Holliday and (safeties) Coach (Todd) Hartley already," Hewitt said. "And Coach Heater, we've got a nice little bond. To hear those familiar names, that makes me even more excited for third down when that bell rings."
Marshall's defense wants to get the fans excited again when that bell tolls on third down throughout Joan C. Edwards Stadium. To do that, it will need to improve on a 2012 third-down conversion rate (44.51 percent) that ranked 97th in the FBS. Holliday hopes this signing class will help the defense improve the way Marshall's offense improved from 2011 to 2012, when it jumped from 102nd in total offense (333.38 yards per game) and 99th in scoring (21.85 points per game) to sixth in total offense (534.25 ypg) and seventh in scoring (40.92 ppg).
"It took us two years to get to the point where we wanted to be offensively, as far as our talent was concerned," he said. "I'm hoping with this class ... and I'm not going to sit here and tell you we're going to make that same jump defensively that we made offensively. I'd like to. That's our goal, is to get this defense to make as much improvement as the offense did. And that's Coach Heater's goal. "
Holliday said the athleticism of this signing class should help that happen.
"I said from Day One that I took the job, that it's a personnel-driven game," Holliday said. "You look out there last year and saw three freshman running backs that could play and Cato was starting to grow up and that offensive line was starting to grow up, and there were wideouts out there that can make plays. We're starting to get that on defense, now. We're starting to have the kind of athletes, defensively, that we have on offense. And when you get both of them, you've got a chance."
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.