HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall football coach Doc Holliday finds himself now in the same predicament in which he found himself two seasons ago - with Rakeem Cato as his starting quarterback and no one behind him who has thrown a collegiate pass.
The difference between then and now: He has more than one viable option from which to choose.
Backup quarterback Blake Frohnapfel, the only Thundering Herd signal-caller besides Cato to take a snap the last two seasons, announced Friday via Twitter that he plans to transfer after he graduates this spring. He'll have two years of eligibility remaining.
"I have asked for the opportunity to transfer, but I do so knowing I leave the best fan base in America," his Twitter statement read in part. "Thank you to everyone who has provided me such a great opportunity and no matter where I go, I will always be a graduate of Marshall University, a son of Marshall and I will always bleed green."
Frohnapfel completed 17 of 22 passes for 206 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in 2013. In 2012, he completed 18 of 23 passes for 180 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
The race for the new No. 2 could have as many as three contenders, though they're all short on experience. Behind Cato this spring will be redshirt sophomore Gunnar Holcombe, redshirt freshman Kevin Anderson and incoming freshman Cole Garvin, who graduated early from Sandy Creek High School in Georgia and enrolled this semester. Holliday may choose to redshirt Garvin, as he did Holcombe and Anderson before him.
Holcombe is a 6-foot-3, 192-pound former three-star prospect from University School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He sat third behind Cato and Frohnapfel this season. He threw for 2,305 yards and 29 touchdowns his senior year of high school and possesses a powerful arm.
He also possesses the most experience in Marshall's offensive system among quarterbacks other than Cato.
Anderson, standing at 6-2 and 199 pounds, was the Herd's scout team quarterback this year. The Boca Raton (Fla.) High graduate was a three-star prospect. Tutored by former Herd quarterback Eric Kresser since the eighth grade, Anderson was considered a pocket passer out of high school, but got plenty of opportunities to work on a dual-threat game, as he was tasked to mimic the many mobile quarterbacks the Herd faced this season. He spent most of his senior year of high school on the shelf with a broken collarbone, throwing for 509 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions before the injury.
Garvin also is a three-star prospect, and signed a financial aid agreement with Marshall in the fall, solidifying his commitment. In three seasons at Sandy Creek, he completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 7,004 yards, 63 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. His team also went 39-2-1 with him under center, winning the 2012 Class 4A state championship.
This scenario isn't exactly like the one Holliday had in 2012, where outside of burning Holcombe's redshirt, Cato and Frohnapfel were his two quarterbacks. Holliday had four in 2011 - Cato, Frohnapfel, A.J. Graham and Eddie Sullivan. Graham was dismissed from the Herd in March 2012 for violating team rules, and Sullivan left the team before the 2011 Memphis game rather than watch his redshirt lit ablaze.
Though Holliday's backup choices weren't many in 2012, Frohnapfel provided a steady hand behind Cato, leading the Herd into double overtime versus East Carolina after Cato left injured in the fourth quarter. Marshall ultimately lost that game, 65-59. It also allowed the Herd to follow their plans in redshirting Holcombe, allowing him a pressure-free year in the system.
Now up to three young quarterbacks will race to be Cato's understudy.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.