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Herd spring drills reach midpoint

by Rob Peirce

SPORTS WRITER

Breaking news from Marshall's spring football camp: The offensive lineman are coming along, and the wide receivers need work.

Such a statement seems opposite from last year with four senior receivers and only one senior lineman to anchor the front five, but this clearly is coach Bob Pruett's assessment, as the Thundering Herd hits the half-way point of spring sessions.

Darius Watts and Curtis Jones, Marshall's two leading returning receivers, have the desirable speed, but they must continue to work on connecting with quarterback Byron Leftwich.

Meanwhile, the line has come along nicely, Pruett said.

"We feel we've made some progress," he said. "We're tickled with them."

As far as surprising individual performances go, Pruett said it's hard to judge, because the players are going up against themselves. But from a group standpoint, the tailback position looks to be competitive.

"That's probably the biggest horse-race we've got," he said.

After running tailback-by-committee for most of last year, Franklin Wallace emerged as the clear starter. But Chanston Rodgers is recovered fully after an anterior cruciate ligament tear last spring, and Brandon Carey is back after a knee injury.

Defensively, the inside linebacker and defensive end positions also remain competitive, Pruett said.

Alonzo Jones and Ralph Street are the leading candidates for linebacker, and Orlando Washington and Marlan Hicks are the same at end.

Thus far, the Herd's spring has been a pleasure experience, Pruett said.

"You always have to work on what to do," he said. "But we're really not disappointed with anything.

Marshall concludes the spring session with an intra-squad scrimmage Saturday, April 7, at 6 p.m.

Sports writer Rob Peirce can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at sports@exponent-telegram.com.

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