HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Marshall running backs coach JaJuan Seider has one heck of a 4x100-meter relay team already formed in his head.
All of them are running backs under his guidance - Essray Taliaferro, Steward Butler, Travon Van and Kevin Grooms.
"Grooms will always have the last leg," he said. "Stew's the second fastest, so he'll have the second leg. Taliaferro has the first leg and Travon would have the third leg."
And that's not even counting human wrecking ball Tron Martinez and redshirt freshman Remi Watson, who led the offense with 78 yards on eight carries in Saturday's first scrimmage of camp.
One could say Seider has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to speed in his backfield. But he's anything but embarrassed.
"Heck no," he said. "The thing that makes it fun is that when each one of those guys is in the game, you have an opportunity for a big play."
The coaching staff is looking for big plays to jolt an offense that struggled at times last season. With the speed the Thundering Herd has collected in the backfield, that may be where they come from. The only question now might be how many carries each running back gets.
Right now, Butler and Grooms have taken many of the carries in practice, since Van (right hip) and Martinez (knee) continue to recover from offseason surgeries. That's no problem, Van said. Coaches know what both he and Martinez can do. The two combined for 1,200 yards and six touchdowns in 2011, averaging a hair under four yards a carry.
They're Marshall's leading returning rushers by a mile and this preseason camp can allow coaches to get a good look at their new weapons.
"We look at it like a comfort zone," Van said. "We know we need all of us to play. Like Coach Seider said, we're only as good as our weakest link. And if our weakest link is as good as the rest of us, we're fine."
Van loves getting a look at the new guys, too, because he's never been on a team with so much speed in the backfield.
The Herd's running backs were pretty quick last year. Seider said Van's 40-yard-dash time has been clocked at 4.4 seconds, while Taliaferro has been clocked at 4.38 and 4.39 and Martinez has been clocked at 4.5.
Now insert Watson, whose 4.5 speed (Seider thinks he could run a 4.4) helped him average 9.7 yards a carry against the defense at Saturday's scrimmage.