HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Darryl Roberts isn't in the business of being a spectator, but the lingering effects of a broken ankle kept the Marshall cornerback on the sideline for the entire 2012 season.
He went to every home game and cheered his teammates from the sidelines, but during every game, he wished he could throw on a pair of shoulder pads and a helmet and join the Thundering Herd secondary.
He's getting that wish this spring. Healthy and ready to play, Roberts is working his way back into the Herd's corner rotation.
"It feels good just being back out here with my teammates," he said, "getting that bond back and having a good time flying around and making plays."
Roberts played all 13 of Marshall's 2011 games, starting nine, picked off one pass and was second on the team with seven pass breakups. His absence last season was one of several injuries that shortened Marshall's cornerback depth chart.
A.J. Leggett's shoulder injury kept him out for the season and a number of bumps and bruises affected the rest of the group.
That's why Marshall Coach Doc Holliday said it's been a major pick-me-up for the secondary in getting Roberts, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound redshirt junior, back on the field.
"He was an awful good football player for a couple of years and we missed him," Holliday said. "It's great to see him back there. Anytime you get a good football player, it's going to help. Competition is the greatest thing in the world in developing players, and having that kind of competition at the corner and safety positions is going to be great."
Roberts will have to spend some time learning the system from new defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, but he said that, physically, it's like he never missed a second.
"I feel pretty good, actually," he said. "I had a good offseason, working and rehabbing really hard. I feel really good right now. I feel like I didn't lose a step, and I feel better than I did."
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THE DEFENSIVE LINE is getting a double dose of coaching this spring with the arrival of ends coach Sean Cronin. Cronin, a former Herd assistant who spent the last two seasons as Temple's defensive line coach, is splitting up the line duties with J.C. Price, who will guide the interior defensive linemen.