HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Much of the Marshall football team's 2014 recruiting class had been verbally committed to the Thundering Herd for months before those players could officially sign their national letters of intent Wednesday. Yet it was a trio of prospects that flipped their commitments to Marshall in the final days that made the Herd the clear winner in the Conference USA recruiting race.
It resembled a strategy Marshall coach Doc Holliday would endorse for his players on the field - playing to the echo of the whistle.
"You're constantly working and moving the numbers around," Holliday said during his Wednesday afternoon press conference. "It never stops. You see an opening with a couple of kids, and we know where our needs are. You try to do the best you can to jump right on it."
See also: Marshall University signees
Rivals, Scout and 247Sports rate Marshall's recruiting class as the best in Conference USA. The Herd snagged 11 prospects rated three stars by Rivals, while no other team in C-USA's 2014 membership picked up more than four.
The Herd also finished among the best recruiting classes outside of the power conferences, according to 247Sports' composite team ratings, which factor in the ratings from all the major recruiting sites. The 247Sports ratings were incomplete as of Wednesday evening - some recruits hadn't been moved from "hard commits" to "signed" - but the composite ratings had Marshall ranked 56th overall. The University of South Florida out of the American Athletic Conference was ranked 40th.
While many programs cross their fingers and hope they finish the day with the top signing class in their respective conferences, Holliday said that's become the expectation at Marshall.
"I think so," he said. "I don't think there's any doubt that our goal is to have the best class every year in the conference. Chances are that, if you continue to have the best class in the conference, you have the best players in the conference. And it's a personnel-driven game, so that gives you the chance to play for championships.
Marshall's cause was helped by three late defections from other schools' signing classes, led by 6-foot-3, 184-pound safety Kendall Gant from Lake Gibson High in Lakeland, Fla. Gant, a four-star Scout recruit and a three-star recruit according to Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports, was a University of Georgia verbal commitment. He flipped to the Herd on Monday, though, and Marshall coaches think his impact could be immediate.