HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- The third installment of spring drills under Coach Doc Holliday begins in earnest at Marshall today.
But what will football-starved Thundering Herd fans see at 3:30 p.m. today when the team takes the field for the first of 15 practices that will be spread neatly across a five-week period?
Well, although there is a dearth of scholarship quarterbacks at the ready, freshman Blake Frohnapfel will participate in practice from today until the Green-White game on April 28.
What Frohnapfel can and cannot do following offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder remains to be seen.
"Blake won't be able to make every throw," Holliday said Monday. "It's huge whether he can throw it (in practice) or not. He is throwing and the trainers are working with him and making sure he doesn't overdo it.
"At this point, it is all about him being able to be out there and take snaps."
The 6-foot-6, 229-pound signal caller from Colonial Forge, Va., sat out last season as a redshirt. Frohnapfel had surgery on his shoulder following the conclusion of the regular season and missed the team's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl victory over Florida International.
Frohnapfel and incumbent starter Rakeem Cato, a rising sophomore, are the only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster following the dismissal of part-time starter A.J. Graham (violation of team rules) three weeks ago.
The shortage of able throwers can put an inordinate amount of stress on Cato's trusty right arm, so don't be surprised when his position coach, Tony Petersen, is chucking the ball around the Edwards Stadium turf a little bit this spring.
Cato and Frohnapfel will be joined by incoming true freshman Gunnar Holcombe this summer.
Here are other team and personnel items to monitor this spring:
Two exceptions are running backs Travon Van and Tron Martinez.
Van, a rising sophomore, and Martinez, a rising junior, each had multiple offseason surgeries and will be relegated to merely spectating the next five weeks.
"They'll be out for the spring," Holliday said. "They had to get some things cleaned up."
Van made his collegiate debut last season and rushed for 551 yards and three touchdowns. His yardage total trailed only Martinez, who gained 649 yards on the ground with three touchdowns.
Van and Martinez combined to account for 77 percent of the Herd's rushing yards in 2011.
Last spring, Van sat out as an academic non-qualifier and Martinez simply sat out the spring game because Holliday felt he had nothing more to prove.
In those players' absence this spring, senior Martin Ward, junior Essray Taliaferro and redshirt freshman Remi Watson will carry the load.