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Chuck McGill: Switzer in rare air at North Carolina

The Associated Press
North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer smiles as he trots off the field against Pittsburgh on Nov. 16 in Pittsburgh.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Can Ryan Switzer someday be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft? What about a Heisman Trophy winner?  

Those might seem like outlandish questions to pose about the diminutive speedster from the hills of West Virginia, but the Football Writers Association of America made Switzer part of an exclusive group.

Switzer, the former George Washington football standout who became a two-time Kennedy Award winner, smashed records during his true freshman season at the University of North Carolina. The FWAA placed Switzer on its 70th All-America team and 13th Freshman All-America team, one of six players ever to appear on both squads in the same season.

The others: Adrian Peterson (Running back, Oklahoma, 2004); Michael Crabtree (Wide receiver, Texas Tech, 2007); Jeremy Maclin (Wide receiver, Missouri, 2007); Johnny Manziel (Quarterback, Texas A&M, 2012); and Jameis Winston (Quarterback, Florida State, 2013).

Peterson, Crabtree and Maclin were all first-round draft selections. Manziel and Winston are the last two Heisman winners.

Not bad company, eh?

Unlike Manziel and Winston, though, Switzer made the FWAA teams as a true freshman. Manziel and Winston each benefited from a redshirt season. The last true freshman to make the All-America team was Peterson in 2004.

Switzer, by the way, finished awards season as the Belk Bowl MVP, a first-team selection for All-ACC (punt returner), ESPN.com (kick returner) and Athlon (return specialist). CBSSports.com (punt returner) and USA Today (return specialist) named Switzer a second-team All-American.

He also made the Athlon and Sporting News Freshman All-America teams.

Switzer finished with 502 punt return yards, five touchdowns and a 20.92 average per punt return. All of those led the nation. The five scores on punt returns tied the NCAA single-season record (Chad Owens, Hawaii, 2004), and Switzer became UNC's first true freshman All-American since 1977.

Maybe Switzer will never walk across the stage at Radio City Music Hall or get invited to the building at the corner of 44th and Broadway as a finalist for college football's top honor, but after this season, why doubt him?

* * *

MARSHALL EXPERIENCED a historic three-day stretch against North Texas and Tulsa.

The Thundering Herd men's basketball team lost to the Mean Green by 15 points (80-65) and Golden Hurricane by 17 points (69-52). It is the first time - ever - that Marshall has lost by 15 or more points in consecutive games at home.

In 1968-69, when Ellis Johnson coached the Herd to a 9-15 season, Marshall lost to Ohio by 16 points, 110-94, in a Feb. 1 home game. One week later, the Herd lost to Kent State by 17 points, 78-61, in its next home game. That is the only other time Marshall has lost consecutive home dates by 15 or more points, but those performances were interrupted by a road loss to Miami (Ohio).

Coach Tom Herrion's Herd is off to a 6-13 start with four losses to open Conference USA play. The last time Marshall started 0-4 in league play was a season before entering C-USA. In 2004-05, when Ron Jirsa's Herd went 6-22 and 3-15 in the Mid-American Conference, Marshall opened league play 0-10. If that seems like a level of futility that is too hard to reach, the Herd is 0-8 on the road this season and plays five of its next seven games away from the Henderson Center.

* * *

MY APOLOGIES basketball fans, how about some sunnier hoops news?

West Virginia State knows the value of Bo.

The Yellow Jackets men's basketball team defeated Concord, 94-85, Saturday to improve to 7-6 overall and 4-6 in the Mountain East. Bo King scored 32 points in 36 minutes as State won for the third time in a stretch of four consecutive road games. King made 10 of 16 shots, seven 3-pointers, all five of his free throws, grabbed six rebounds, dished out three assists and added a steal.

The senior is now averaging a team-best 21.3 points per game, leads State with 25 three-pointers and has made 40 of 45 free throws (88.9 percent).

The player's value to Bryan Poore's club: State is 6-2 since King gained eligibility after the conclusion of the first semester.

The Yellow Jackets are 11-23 the past two seasons without King in the lineup.

As Bo goes, so does State.

Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcgill@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-7949. Follow him on Twitter @chuckmcgill.


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