HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Shawney Kersey and Devon Smith had identical reactions to watching the Marshall football team's offense.
The pair of wide receivers saw quarterback Rakeem Cato and a deep corps of wideouts sling the Thundering Herd to the top of the Football Bowl Subdivision passing rankings and knew they wanted to be a part of it.
Now both Kersey and Smith, former Penn State receivers, are on Marshall's practice field this spring, working their way into the Herd's passing game and hoping they can help keep the unit among college football's elite.
Kersey and Smith are two in a trio of Penn State transfers with cornerback Derrick Thomas, all able to leave State College and be immediately eligible elsewhere due to the NCAA sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Smith came to Huntington with Thomas last season, but sat out until this spring. Kersey stuck around for new Penn State Coach Bill O'Brien and started the first two games of 2012 before leaving for personal reasons.
The two watched Marshall's passing game explode in 2012, though from different perspectives. Kersey watched from afar, while Smith, nicknamed "Moo-Moo," had a front-row seat on the Herd sideline.
As Smith saw the Herd scorch opposing defenses, all he could think of was getting a piece of the action.
"That's all I could say on the sidelines, I just couldn't wait to get out there," Smith said. "I'm excited, really excited and pumped up."
Kersey got a tip to give Cato and Marshall a look, and it wasn't long before he was hooked, too.
"My brother let me know, there's a quarterback, No. 12 at Marshall University, you should check him out," Kersey said. "I did my research and checked it out and I was impressed. I still am."
The duo will take different roles in Marshall's offense. The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Smith is far from the biggest guy on the field, but it's rare that he isn't the fastest. He was the 2009 Nike indoor national champion in the 60-meter dash and already has shown that speed on the practice field. During the first week of spring, Smith took a short pass, sprinted to his right, then up the sideline and darted away from the defense.
And that was done on a surgically repaired foot that he said limited him to about "60 to 70 percent" of his top speed.
"I think I probably surprise a lot of people on the team," Smith said. "They knew I was fast, but they didn't know how fast I was. I know they respect me."