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Expectations high for Herd in 2018

July 21, 2018

Marshall head coach Doc Holliday oversees drills as Herd football continues spring practice on April 12 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — As Marshall University coach Doc Holliday looked ahead to the 2018 football season, there were plenty of positives that he saw for his team.

Coming off an eight-win season, Marshall has 18 starting players back — nine on each side of the football — with a mix of talent and experience that few in Conference USA can boast of.

Because of the returning nucleus, there has been a buzz around Marshall’s campus and the Huntington community that is reminiscent of what was heard prior to the 2014 season, which was when the Thundering Herd staked claim to its only Conference USA football championship.

On Thursday afternoon, Holliday was joined by senior wide receiver Tyre Brady and senior linebacker Chase Hancock at Conference USA’s Football Media Kickoff at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

Holliday did not shy away from talk of expectations for this season, saying a C-USA championship is the only goal that matters.

“Along with those expectations comes responsibility,” Holliday said. “Potential gets you beat, production wins games. These guys just need to understand that we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got to keep our head down and keep going to work every day. We’ve got a lot of potential, but we have to turn all that potential to production.”

Perhaps that is why Holliday chose Brady and Hancock to make the trip with him.

Brady and Hancock are seniors that will be asked to lead the team. They come from different backgrounds, which makes them identifiable with their fellow teammates.

Brady, the Homestead, Florida, native who started his career at the University of Miami, came into Marshall’s program in 2016 and, despite not being able to take the field, immediately went to work on the scout team to make players around him better. That trust of his teammates led into the 2017 season when he caught 62 passes for 942 yards and eight touchdowns with breakout games against N.C. State and in the New Mexico Bowl against Colorado State.

Hancock, a Beckley native, took a different path to becoming an on-field leader for the Herd.

A walk-on out of Woodrow Wilson High School, Hancock quietly went to work each day, leading by example and earning his stripes through special teams, then onto the field defensively where he combines his football I.Q. with his play making ability as one of the league’s top linebackers.

“They’ve both represented Marshall University and out entire football team with a lot of class,” Holliday said. “They do a tremendous job. Leadership is setting a standard and making sure everybody lives up to that standard. At the end of practice, (Brady’s) out there always working, and Chase is the same way. Our guys have a lot of respect for both these guys because of the way they go about their business.”

Business is what both Brady and Hancock were talking about during their media sessions Thursday.

Just minutes before they went on the ESPN3.com live stream to discuss the Herd, Brady found out he was named to the Watch List for the Biletnikoff Award, which is given each year to the nation’s top wide receiver.

When asked about the honor, Brady didn’t hesitate.

“You still have work to do,” Brady said. “It’s just the preseason. I look forward to going to work.”

Marshall was chosen to finish second in C-USA’s East Division behind defending champion Florida Atlantic.

The Herd reports for fall camp Aug. 2 and starts practice Aug. 3. Marshall’s season-opener is a 3:30 p.m. Sept. 1 contest against Miami (Ohio) at Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio.

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