HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The state of Florida long has been a recruiting gold mine for Marshall football coach Doc Holliday, who recruited the state from his first days as an assistant coach. This year, though, the Thundering Herd tapped deeper into another profitable vein - the state of Georgia.
The Herd signed eight Peach State prospects, the most from any one state in the 2014 signing class. Holliday has fared well in Georgia before. Conyers, Ga., tackle Garrett Scott and Valdosta, Ga., linebacker Jermaine Holmes both were named to the all-Conference USA second team last season. Sandersville, Ga., guard Michael Selby was named to the conference all-freshman team.
"Those Georgia kids have all come in there, they're great kids that love football and are good players," Holliday said. "I like those Georgia kids."
It also helps that the Herd has coaches with solid Georgia connections. Tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Todd Hartley is a Georgia native, a University of Georgia graduate and a former Bulldogs graduate assistant who served as interim defensive backs coach in the 2009 Independence Bowl.
Running backs coach Thomas Brown starred at running back at Tucker High School outside of Atlanta before heading to Georgia, where he was named to the SEC all-freshman team and finished his career as the Bulldogs' fifth-leading career rusher. Brown's recruiting area for Marshall includes Atlanta, and he said it was no surprise why.
"There's so much talent packed into that small area," Brown said on the Herd's signing day live webcast. "Not just the city of Atlanta, but also metro Atlanta and the surrounding counties. There's such a wealth of talent there. And then we could benefit from getting guys from there in here to have success early on ... and start a new wave of guys from Atlanta."
The Herd picked up three Atlanta-area prospects - running back Keion Davis from Langston Hughes High in Fairburn, Ga., defensive back Antavis Rowe of Washington High in Atlanta, and receiver Emanuel Beal from Hillgrove High in Powder Springs, Ga. Hartley recruited the other five Georgia players, including three-star quarterback Cole Garvin of Sandy Creek High in Tyrone, Ga.
* * *