HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Normally, it's powerhouse football programs like Florida State University that enjoy a good National Signing Day surprise, snagging a blue-chip recruit while programs like Marshall's are left as spectators to another team's good fortune.
The tables were turned Wednesday.
It was the Thundering Herd that was celebrating at FSU's expense, as former Seminoles verbal commitment Michael Johnson, a safety from Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington, signed a letter of intent with Marshall. That highlighted a large and well-regarded 2013 recruiting class for the Herd and made Coach Doc Holliday a happy man.
Recruiting sites consider the Herd's signing class one of, if not the best, in Conference USA. The website 247Sports uses a composite ranking system that takes into account how all recruiting sites rate each class. Marshall's was ranked 48th in the country. That's not only the highest ranking for a C-USA school, but also the highest ranking for any school outside of a BCS automatic qualifying conference.
"Evidently it means you recruit guys that people think are really good players," Holliday said Wednesday afternoon.
"I'd rather be No. 1 than No. 10. I think it means we're on the right kids and we're getting the right kids, but what counts is what happens when they get here and step on that field."
Johnson, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound defensive back, was a four-star recruit according to ESPN and was rated the country's No. 27 safety prospect according to Rivals. He was named to the Class 4A Florida all-state second team after helping Booker T. Washington win the Class 4A state title, and had Ole Miss, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Kansas State among his other offers.
Holliday said convincing Johnson to come to Huntington had a lot to do with the relationships he and his assistants had built with the high school, the family and the area.
"We had great contacts at Booker T.," Holliday said. "(Coach) Ice Harris is a personal friend. We have a lot of friends at the school and I recruited Michael's dad way back when he was at Miami High years ago.
"He's a tremendous guy who wants an opportunity to play early," he added. "Kids do things for different reasons. We were fortunate. We hung in there with him, he visited and he ended up signing with us. It was a good get."