The dust has settled on Marshall football's 2011 recruiting class and here at HerdNation we decided to take some time, step back, and analyze all the different pieces of the recruiting class and dish out some superlatives and some awards.
Players such as Craig Wilkins, Keith Baxter, Conelius Jones, Cortez Carter, Davonte Allen, Eric Frohnapfel, Quinton Pompey, Kelvin Benjamin, Steward Butler, Christopher Alston, Blake Frohnapfel, Rakeem Cato, Stefone Grace, Jamar Lewter, Anthony Spano, Colin Munro, Armonze Daniel, Jarquez Samuel, Josue Joseph, Chevelle Buie, Sebastian Johannson, Jephete Matilus, Remi Watson, Derrick Campbell, Brandon King, Levern Jacobs, Allan Wasonga and DeAndre Reaves all get mentioned, among many others.
Those are just a few members of the 2011 recruiting class that made the HerdNation 2011 Roundtable. There are plenty more prospects that got mentioned in our breakdown of the 2011 recruiting class.
Who are the most underrated member of the class? Who's the most overrated? What about immediate impact players? Who are going to be the instant-impact players of the 2011 class?
Our HerdNation team of writers give their take on the 2011 recruiting class.
Check out their thoughts below their name.
Staff Writer HerdNation.com
Immediate Impact Offensive Player -Craig Wilkins - Marshall's 2-deep at WR is in immediate need of an upgrade and Wilkins looks like the best of an outstanding group of WR prospects.
Immediate Impact Defensive Player - Keith Baxter-It's tough to tell where the Marshall legacy will start out but there's no doubt PT behind the Browns at safety is very much up in the air. I also wouldn't be shocked to see Baxter crack the lineup at dime or nickel corner.
Best All-Around Athlete-Conelius Jones-Not sure if he'll ever be a full-time QB at Marshall but Jones is an electric athlete that could project at a number of positions. He's the type of player that if he grasps the playbook quickly, could end up seeing ample PT next year.
Most Underrated Player-Cortez Carter-Carter doesn't have the hype of some of the more heralded linebackers in this class but the Liberty High School product has that "it" factor prized by so many coaches. His high school coach Tommy Buzzo calls Cortez the best leader he's ever coached--which is saying a ton considering the number of kids Buzzo has sent to BCS programs over the past few years.
Slightly Overrated Player-Davonte Allen-I say overrated simply because I think Allen is destined for a redshirt year serving as Aaron Dobson's apprentice. There's no doubt Davonte is going to be a major contributor during his time in Huntington, I just think that time won't begin until 2012.
Most Surprising-Eric Frohnapfel-I spoke directly with Eric's friends and family this fall while covering one of his games and came away convinced there was zero chance he'd end up anywhere but Morgantown. I've never been so happy to be wrong, though. Eric will be a good one and will continue an excellent tradition of tight ends at MU.
Most Disappointing- A tie between Quinton Pompey and Kelvin Benjamin. Not only would Benjamin have pushed Marshall to the top of the C-USA rankings, but we may have cracked the top 40 nationally. Pompey would have filled a large need at DT but with guys like Robert Mincey and Jarquez Samuel in the fold missing out on him isn't as hurtful as it could have been.
Most Exciting Guy to Watch Play- Stew Butler--To me, he's a clone of Chevelle Buie yet Butler put up equally impressive numbers against tougher competition. I know Herd fans are disappointed in losing Buie to ECU but I'm confident Butler will turn out to be the better back. His highlight videos show explosiveness and a tough style of running that in my opinion Buie lacks.
Best Recruiting Moment for Marshall this Cycle- Easy one for me, Eric Frohnapfel's commitment.
The Low Point of Marshall Recruiting-Losing Coach Smith (and eventually Coach Cronin) to Temple. Those two, in my opinion, are future recruiting stars. But taking a glass half-full approach I see it as a sign that Doc is making great hires-which leads me to believe he'll replace Cronin and Smith with extremely capable coaches.
Biggest Mystery Man as far as Future Production-Blake Frohnapfel-The quarterback position is muddled with young talent and Blake seems to project just as well at DE as he does at QB (as evidenced by his WVU and Wake Forest offers). It honestly wouldn't surprise me to see Blake start at DE or QB during his time at MU. He's the type of kid who will do whatever it takes to help make his team better.
Biggest Upside-Chris Alston- Word is that Alston may be the most talented amongst all the newcomers at WR. If he recovers as expected from a knee injury, Alston could emerge down the line as the biggest surprise of the 2011 recruiting class.
Commitment Recruiting Award-Blake Frohnapfel-A big assist goes out to Blake for his help in landing his brother Eric. There's no doubt the thought of playing with his twin in college was one of the biggest reasons Eric decided to switch his commitment from WVU to Marshall late in the recruiting process.
Team Marshall Hurt the Most-FIU-Rakeem Cato was the centerpiece of FIU's class and the Golden Panthers were forced to reach late on a QB to fill Cato's shoes.
Team that Hurt Marshall the Most - Not sure I can pick a school here. One thing may have caused the most damage to MU's recruiting plan was the domino effect of Al Golden leaving Temple for Miami. Not only did coaches Cronin and Smith leave but MU also missed out on kids like Ricardo Williams.
Immediate Impact Offensive Player-Conelius Jones
Immediate Impact Defensive Player-
Terry Franklin (by virtue of being a JUCO)
Best All-Around Athlete-Keith Baxter
Most Underrated Player-
Slightly Overrated Player-Stefone Grace
Most Surprising-Armonze Daniel (both for the commit and for talent)
Most Disappointing-Chevelle Buie
Most Exciting Guy to Watch Play-
Conelius Jones or Craig Wilkins
Best Recruiting Moment for Marshall this Cycle-Davonte Allen
The Low Point of Marshall Recruiting-Decommit of Jephete Matilus and loss of Buie
Biggest Mystery Man as far as Future Production-Sebastian Johansson
Biggest Upside-Josue Joseph
Commitment Recruiting Award- Hands down Keith Baxter. This dude recruited for us non-stop!
Team Marshall Hurt the Most-FIU (we ended up with Cato and Shuler both)
Team that Hurt Marshall the Most-Miami
Immediate Impact Offensive Player -Colin Munro; freshman-Remi Watson. Coach Holliday really wanted a JC player who can come in and start at a tackle position. Munro was All-Conference at both of his JC schools. There's a wide-open opportunity at running back. Watson is an honors student and has no eligibility concerns; he could come in and win the starting job.
Immediate Impact Defensive Player -Terry Franklin; freshman-Armonze Daniel. As above, picking a JC player to contribute right away is a no-brainer, but if Franklin doesn't give opposing offensive linemen a reason to pay attention to both ends of the Herd defensive line there will be a lot of surprised fans and coaches. Like Franklin, Daniel has BCS-level talent and size and could make an immediate impact in the right situations and defensive schemes.
Best All-Around Athlete -Keith Baxter. Baxter has a safety's size and physique with the sprinter's speed to play corner.
Most Underrated Player-Chris Alston. Alston come from a state that has produced overlooked and underrated WR's before for the Herd (remember Josh Davis?). An injury kept him from having a huge senior year that might have attracted BCS offers, but when healthy he'll make the big boys wonder how he got away.
Slightly Overrated Player-Jamar Lewter. Lewter has NFL-size and earned three-stars on potential more than current ability. As an overrated announcer once said, "His future is ahead of him," but his present will need to include some learning to realize his potential.
Most Surprising-Craig Wilkins. The Herd staff was somewhat surprised when the very quiet Wilkins committed to the Herd. A little shuffling of plans was required to make him fit. There was some surprise among fans when he stayed true to his commitment despite more BCS offers.
Most Disappointing-Chevelle Buie-Herd recruiting fans were hoping for this four-star to pick the Herd. Despite landing Remi Watson, Steward Butler, and Allan Wasonga, the disappointment when Buie chose another school was compounded by the fact that the school he chose is one the Herd faces every season.
Most Exciting Guy to Watch Play- Conelius Jones. The fact that Jones was originally recruited to Michigan to play QB has Marshall fans counting the days until spring practice to see what he can do as a runner and a passer. The surest best in town is that Jones' running ability will remind no one of Brian Anderson's.
Best Recruiting Moment for Marshall this Cycle-Eric Frohnapfel's commitment. Most Herd fans thought it wouldn't happen. Things broke just right and it did, and it was so worth waiting for.
The Low Point of Marshall Recruiting-the loss of Derrick Campbell and Brandon King. Campbell is coming off two years at prep school; it was hoped he was physically mature enough to step right into the offensive line's two-deep. Similarly, King was the only recruit with genuine DT size, although Coach Holliday said on signing day that 300 pound interior linemen aren't really needed in C-USA.
Biggest Mystery Man as far as Future Production- Allan Wasonga, Sebastian Johansson. I'll pick one on each side of the ball. Physical ability is no question for either player. In Wasonga's case, whether he has the desire to work hard in all phases of being a college football player is the big unknown. Marshall didn't have to promise a scholarship to find out if his original four-star rating is a hit or a myth. Johansson played only one year of American high school football. He has the size and physical tools to play college football; the unknown for him is whether he can make up for the years of not facing top competition that many other players have.
Biggest Upside-Josue Joseph. Joseph has only two years of high school football on his resume. Coach Bill Legg even joked that Joseph has no bad habits because he has no habits. Joseph has the athletic ability and potential to be a major contributor up front for the Herd once he gets "coached up."
Commitment Recruiting Award-Blake Frohnapfel. Blake made up his mind early and then tried to convince other players to join him. Whether he had any direct influence on his brother's decision or not, the fact that he provided the attraction for he and Eric playing together sure didn't hurt.
Team Marshall Hurt the Most-Florida International. Marshall walked into Miami and lured the state championship QB right out of FIU's back yard. If Cato had stayed committed to FIU, then you never know what might have happened with the commitment of his top WR Tommy Shuler. As it ended up, the Herd added two more Miami kids to their considerable haul from the Sunshine State.
Team that Hurt Marshall the Most-Air Force? Is that right - a service academy? DE Troy Timmerman and DB Ryan Pollard would have been great additions to the Herd roster, but both ended up heading for Colorado Springs where they have a great chance to contribute to the nation as well as the Falcons football program.
Instant Impact Player on Offense- Conelius Jones. While many see Jones playing a different position, I see the dynamic dual-threat quarterback Coach Holliday and company have been looking for. A fantastic runner with a strong arm, Jones being here in the spring ,enabling him to learn the playbook and work off the rust--is what I feel will ultimately put him over the top. Add in his relentless work ethic and I could easily see him as our starting quarterback and at minimum having a huge role in the offense.
Runner up-Craig Wilkins
Instant impact player on defense-Terry Franklin-It's hard to pick against the former Oklahoma 2009 signee. The Juco standout combines talent and upside with experience at a position of need for the Herd. Don't be surprised to see Mr. Franklin lining up on the opposite end of Vinny Curry to open the season in Morgantown.
Runner Up-Keith Baxter
Best All Around Athlete-DeAndre Reaves. This jack of all trades athlete lined up all over the field for his Dominion Titans. He excelled at RB, QB, KR, and as a DB. He even had 2 interceptions-- including a pick 6. The spectacular dynamo will use his tremendous speed and quickness to make plays while playing primarily in the slot at MU.
Runner up-Robert Way
Most Underrated-Levern Jacobs. The brash wideout was a no brainer for this spot. He displays a tremendous blend of speed, fluidity,polished route running, great hands, and confidence to dominate any opponent. After putting on a show all week during Crab Bowl practices, it was evident Jacobs is at minimum a three-star player. However, after evaluations he remained a two-star. Expect Levern to make plays early and often in Huntington.
Runner Up- DeAndre Reaves
Slightly Overrated-Jamar Lewter. This was a tough call because I don't think many players are overrated in this class. If I had to choose one, I would have to go with Lewter. While I agree he is a three-star prospect, I just think he shouldn't be rated so highly. He needs to bulk up and refine his technique and is probably a year away from contributing. Give him a couple years though, he has NFL written all over him.
Runner Up-Allan Wasonga
Most Surprising Commitment-Craig Wilkins. It was believed his interest in Marshall was quickly fading. Then out of the blue, Craig decided he wanted to join the Thundering Herd. Needless to say, HerdNation was elated to add the spectacular wideout.
Runner Up-Jamar Lewter
Most Disappointing-Quinton Pompey. While it is still a possibility, it was believed that Pompey would become a member of Marshall's class but that never came to fruition. If there is a spot Marshall didn't a commitment from, it was a pure defensive tackle, and Pompey would fit the bill.
Runner Up-Chevelle Buie
Most Exciting to Watch-Steward Butler. The Lakeland star's senior season is the stuff legends are made of, compiling over 3000 yds, 12 yds per carry and 30 tds. After watching his highlights it's evident to see how he contributed such gaudy stats. Showing off incredible speed, quickness and acceleration he leaves defenders in the dust time and time again. Using a remarkable array of moves, Butler slices and dices through some well thought of defenses, making it look easy.
Runner Up-Craig Wilkins
Most Personable-The Frohnapfel Twins(tie). Judging from the interviews I've read, they both seem like nice,well-spoken, intelligent, friendly guys. Besides being immensely talented on the gridiron, they both seem to be good people, fierce competitors and natural leaders. Great ambassadors for MU.
Runner up--Jarquez Samuel
Best Recruiting Moment-The weekend of January 14th. An incredible collection of talent congregated in Huntington that weekend for an official visit. It netted huge commitments from standouts Remi Watson,Armonze Daniel,Jarquez Samuel,Jermaine Holmes and Terry Franklin. That weekend will live on in infamy when reflecting on the 2011 class.
Runner Up-Eric Frohnapfel's switch from WVU.
Low point-Chevelle Buie. There weren't a lot of low points for Coach Holliday and his staff but Buie committing to ECU is one. It was thought that Marshall was in prime position to land the Cocoa standout but the allure of being the next Chris Johnson was too much to overcome. Steward Butler's commitment significantly lessened the blow however.
Runner Up-Ricardo Wiliiams to the "U" (Miami).
Mystery Man As Far As Production-Davonte Allen. While he is an outstanding receiver, 23 catches doesn't wow me. Nine touchdowns shows he has a nose for the endzone and his over 20 yard per catch average shows his explosiveness. I was expecting more catches but that could be attributed to quarterback, being new to the school, or having Kelvin Benjamin on his team. He obviously has good hands, we will see what he does with more opportunities.
Runner Up-Chris Alston
Biggest Upside-Josue Joseph. The young offensive lineman only has two years of playing experience under his belt, so he is still raw but his potential is through the roof. With an impressive wingspan and footwork, he has the physical tools to be great. Josue will get better and better the more experience he gets. The sky is truly the limit.
Runner Up-Jarquez Samuel
Commitment recruiting award-Blake Frohnapfel. Blake stayed true to his commitment from day one, throughout Marshall adding other quarterbacks to the class. Not wavering at all and playing a part in his brother flipping to MU and even helped recruit other players such as Joe Massaquoi. He didn't take other visits and has been one of the cornerstones of this class.
Runner Up-Deontae West
Team Marshall Beat for Recruits-WVU seemed to be in on a lot of the same recruits as Marshall but I don't know if I should go that direction. FIU and FAU seemed to be a common team to go against as well, with the Herd being so prominent in South Florida, it's only natural.
Team that beat Marshall in Recruiting-Miami head coach Al Golden from the "U" was a thorn in MU's side on occasion. Securing highly coveted Ricardo Williams, targeting many of our targets and commits, as well as further complicating Pompey's recuitment by extending a late offer.
Immediate Impact Offensive Player-Remi Watson--Remi Watson is oozing with a jaw-dropping level of versatility. A quarterback most of his football career, Watson has amazingly good vision between the tackles and follows his blocks extremely well. He ran the Wildcat with such fluidity and such efficiency at Lake Gibson that he turned it into an art form. He's a lefty and can also throw some pretty nice passes down the field as well. No stranger to the slot receiver position either, Watson is extremely comfortable lining up in a variety of formations all over the field-especially as a slot receiver. Dancing around defenders to the tune of 1,700 all-purpose yards his senior year for head coach Keith DeMyer, Watson joined Steward Butler as one of the finest running backs to come out of Polk County. Watson is also extremely powerful and strong as a runner-he's often seen pushing the pile and carrying defenders five yards down the field. If he can get some blocking up front, there's no question Watson will put up some big time numbers early in his Marshall career as a true freshman.
Runner Up--Craig Wilkins--The 2011 recruiting class for Marshall on film is absolutely spectacular across the board-so only listing two players is pretty tough but there's no question for me that Craig Wilkins will be a big-time talent when he sets foot on the football field at Marshall. His film blew me away when I first watched it. There's no better receiver in the 2011 class at catching the football at its highest point and winning the battle for jump balls. Defending a jump ball against a guy like Wilkins will be an absolute nightmare for C-USA corners. It's so unfair I almost feel sorry for them. His combination of leaping ability, ball skills, and body control make him a total mismatch. He's got the ability to make the acrobatic grab look easy and he does that time and time again in his highlights. When it comes down to crunch time in the red zone-look for the MU trigger-man to lob up the fade pass at the back pylon in each corner of the end zone. Wilkins will do what he does best-go up and get it! Showing the ability to make the big play the past two years for Hialeah High School (he averaged 20 yards per catch)-the trend will continue once Wilkins suits up in Kelly Green and White.
Immediate Impact Defensive Player--Terry Franklin--Franklin was a big-time pickup that the Marshall coaching staff was super excited to land. A former Oklahoma commitment in the class of 2009, there's no doubting Franklin's talent when you turn on the tape. He's a high-motor player who is relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback-he should team with Vinny Curry to form one of the most devastating pass rush duos in all of C-USA. Coming to Marshall from the JUCO ranks of Hinds Community College in Raymond, Mississippi-Franklin racked up six sacks last season. He should come in and start for the Herd from day one.
Runner Up--Keith Baxter--Baxter was a prospect that was very highly regarded throughout the recruiting process-for the longest period of time he was the top rated prospect in the 2011 recruiting class for Marshall. When watching his highlight tape-it's easy to see why. He's blindingly fast and his recovery speed is absolutely outstanding. He's got excellent ball skills and is one of the stronger players in the class for his size-his max bench is 325 pounds. He'll be a physical cover corner at the line of scrimmage with the ability to jam receivers and disrupt the timing and rhythm of their routes. Cornerback is one of the biggest positions of need for the Herd and Baxter will figure to come in and start very, very early in his Marshall football career. He's got all the football skills necessary to be a big-time player for the Herd. Beyond that, Baxter is a natural leader who has an excellent knack for getting others to listen to him and follow him-his passionate and deep voice allows him to command attention. The son of Marshall football legend Keith Baxter, Sr., I look for the younger Baxter to have no such problems in blazing his own trail of success at Marshall University.
Armonze Daniel--Okay so I picked three here-but what can I say there are simply too many choices for either of these on offense or defense. When I say that Armonze Daniel is likely the best pass coverage linebacker in the country I mean it. I don't know if I've ever seen a linebacker coming out of high school with his pass coverage skills. He's truly something special. You could match him up against a lot of the defensive backs and cornerbacks in the 2011 class and I guarantee you Daniel has better pass coverage skills than a lot of them-that's how amazing he is in pass coverage. He's extremely good at jamming the receiver at the line of scrimmage and disrupting the timing and rhythm of their route. Not only that, when it comes to blanketing them in space-Daniel sticks to them like glue. His ball skills are off-the-charts for a linebacker and he even makes a couple interceptions in his junior highlight tape. He's the highest rated member of Marshall's recruiting class and for good reason. The Avon, Indiana native is destined for NFL millions someday if he can stay healthy and will make a name for himself in Kelly Green and White-no question about it.
Best All-Around Athlete--DeAndre Reaves--Reaves was the jack-of-all trades for the Dominion Titans and established himself as one of the premiere football players in the Washington, D.C. metro area the past few seasons. He lined up at quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back, and kick returner for the Titans and coach Karl Buckwalter. He had two interceptions this past season for Dominion and even had a pick six, like Mike Curtis mentioned. He was also an excellent basketball player for Dominion as well, so it's easy for me that Reaves gets the nod because of his versatility.
Runner Up--Keith Baxter--Not only a gifted football player, many people forget that Baxter doubles as a track star for the Homestead Broncos as well and has been clocked at 4.41 in the 40 yard dash. His speed and athleticism is easy to see when you turn on the tape-so he gets the nod at second place here.
Most Underrated--LeVern Jacobs III--For me, this one was not even remotely close. Rated as two-stars and a default 5.2 according to Rivals.com, Levern Jacobs is easily the most underrated member of the entire 2011 recruiting class for Marshall and he showed why when he lit it up at the Crab Bowl practices in one-on-one drills. Jacobs abused some of the DC/Maryland area's top talent at the cornerback position. Blessed with a super soft of hands, Jacobs will make an impact early in his Marshall football career and will bring a much needed swagger to the Marshall football roster. Oozing with confidence, bravado, and a dynamic personality-Jacobs will easily be one of the most entertaining Marshall players to watch-both on the field and in the interview room.
Runner Up--There's a number of players I could rattle off in this class, but I'll go with Remi Watson and Steward Butler--their on-the-field production the past few seasons speaks for itself. They were the two best running backs in Polk County and two of the most underrated running backs in the 2011 class. Both running backs deserved better rankings in my eyes--considering their film and production over the past few years.
Another player I would look at as very underrated in the 2011 class is Anthony Spano. He flat out destroys players in his highlight film and makes sure to take defenders to the turf on every play. He's excellent at finishing his blocks and is one of the more underrated offensive linemen I've seen in recent memory.
Most Overrated--Jamar Lewter--For me, this one isn't even close and it was an easy pick. Lewter is blessed with tremendous size at 6'8, 280 pounds but at this point he simply does not play like it. It's easy to see why he's so highly rated- but he's clearly more of a projection at this point and is likely destined for the NFL someday if he can refine his technique--he's still got a long ways to go from this point. On film, he was one of the least impressive members of the class and even though he has a ton of scholarship offers and is highly rated by the folks at Rivals.com-he doesn't play anywhere near to the ability of his lofty ranking. Lewter needs to learn to finish his blocks and get more aggressive out there on the gridiron. When a player is 6'8, 280 pounds on the high school level-they should be flat out dominating the man across from them on every play but you don't see that from him. That said, down the road Lewter should have a very bright future ahead of him-he's just more of a projection at this point than a refined product. If you take a look at Anthony Spano's film and Jamar Lewter's film-the two players are light years apart at this point-yet Lewter is rated ahead of Spano because of his size and offer list.
Most Surprising Commitment--Craig Wilkins--Covering college football recruiting is about reading what 17 year old and 18 year old kids are thinking and I was absolutely stunned when I heard of the Craig Wilkins commitment to Marshall University. He's such a quiet guy that he's nearly impossible to get a read on and you can never really tell what he's thinking. I thought for sure that Marshall was fading and fading fast for his services but boom, out of nowhere he chose MU. Then the Marshall coaching staff had to shuffle a few things around in order to make sure they had a spot for him because even they had moved on and given up on him. Sure enough, they found a spot for the spectacular wideout. It was one of the special moments in the 2011 recruiting class that I won't forget.
Runner Up--Jamar Lewter and Eric Frohnapfel--The Lewter commitment switch from UNC to MU came completely out of left field and I don't know if anybody saw that one coming. I was caught completely off guard by it. As for Eric Frohnapfel--sure we all saw it developing in the weeks leading up to the commitment switch but for the switch to finally happen and come to fruition-it was still one of those moments that felt like Christmas morning for Marshall football fans. His commitment switch from West Virginia to Marshall was certainly one of the biggest surprises for Marshall's 2011 recruiting class.
Most Disappointing Commitment--Losing Chevelle Buie to ECU was a huge disappointment for Herd fans and it makes it even worse they'll have to face him over the next few years. The allure of being the next Chris Johnson at ECU was simply too much for Marshall to overcome and now they can only sit back and watch as Buie plays for one of their conference foes the next few years. He's a big-time playmaker and Marshall fans really wanted to see him in Kelly Green and White but he instead opted for Purple and Gold.
Most Exciting Player to Watch--Steward Butler--when you turn on the tape of Steward Butler's senior season at Lakeland High School, you'll witness a man who became the third all-time leading rusher in Florida High School football history-ahead of Hall-of-Fame running back Emmitt Smith. Butler dazzled the high school football fans of Polk County to the tune of over 3,000 rushing yards this season while averaging an astonishing 12 yards per carry. I can't even remember the last time I've followed a high school football player that averaged 12 yards per carry. Those are absolutely mind-blowing numbers. His combination of speed, acceleration, and cutting ability is absolutely breathtaking. I definitely agree with Chris McLaughlin--he reminds me of Chevelle Buie in so many ways. Both have very similar running styles and he even has the same number that Buie did-4. Chris also mentioned the good point that Butler put up better numbers than Buie against tougher competition. Coach Seider labeled him as "instant offense" because he can get from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye. Look for the homerun hitting running back to dazzle Herd fans for years to come.
Runner Up--Craig Wilkins--I don't know if there's one player who got me as excited as Craig Wilkins did after I watched his film. His leaping ability, body control, and hands are absolutely breathtaking. In terms of his highlight reel, he's the most spectacular player in the 2011 class. A quiet kid off-the-field, Wilkins comes alive when he steps on the football field and puts his incredible leaping ability on fine display. He's got the "wow" factor written all over him. His ability to make amazing catches will dazzle football fans in Huntington for years to come.
Best Recruiting Moment This Cycle--For me the weekend of January 14th, 2011 will forever have a special place in my heart with Marshall football. It was one of those moments where I truly felt privileged to cover such an amazing collection of football talent in Huntington, West Virginia. Not only that, but the avalanche of commitments that followed from players such as Armonze Daniel, Terry Franklin, Remi Watson, Jarquez Samuel, Jermaine Holmes, and others. It was a whirlwind of a weekend and the commitments just kept on coming. That weekend really signified the moment of great things to come in the future for Marshall football. It was amazing how so many of those players got along with each other and how they all had the common bond of bringing Marshall football back to the top. The weekend marks the significance of the 2011 recruiting class and how instrumental it will be in bringing MU back to the top in years to come.
Runner Up--Eric Frohnapfel--his switch from West Virginia to Marshall was easily one of my most favorite moments in this cycle-it felt like Christmas morning for Marshall fans.
Low Point of Marshall Recruiting--For me this one isn't really a tough one at all and I'm gonna go with Chris McLaughlin on this-the loss of Zach Smith and Sean Cronin was easily the low point for MU football recruiting from my perspective. They are two of the most gifted recruiters in the country and both are true rising stars in the college football coaching industry. In the end, both had to make tough decisions in order to better their situations for themselves and their families and leave the Marshall football program. Cronin pulled in the likes of Steward Butler, Remi Watson, Jermaine Holmes, and Jarquez Samuel-you could argue that nobody else on the MU staff pulled in a collection of players as talented as those four. He pulled in some of the most talented players in Marshall's recruiting class and was one of the most underrated recruiters on the staff. Coach Smith demonstrated his scouting saavy in finding an under-the-radar prospect in LeVern Jacobs III and he also demonstrated his knack in getting recruits to flip their commitments--DeAndre Reaves to switch from WVU to MU and Jamar Lewter to switch from UNC to MU. Both guys are big-time talents and look for them to make a splash in the college football recruiting scene during the next few years at Temple and beyond.
Biggest Mystery Man As Far as Future Production--I agree with Dick Ash completely on this one. Allan Wasonga is a big-time playmaker-there's no question about it but it will be interesting to see how motivated he will be once he comes into fall camp at Marshall. For Wasonga, I feel like he'll have a chip on his shoulder and he'll play like he has something to prove. There were so many questions surrounding his recruitment process--it will be interesting to see how Wasonga answers those questions on the field and in fall camp. Sebastian Johannson is one prospect I have absolutely no clue how good he'll be at Marshall simply because I haven't gotten to watch any film on him. Sure he's got great size but I always like to wait to watch film before making any kind of evaluations on a prospect. Since I haven't watched him on film nor have I watched him in person-he's easily the biggest question mark of the 2011 recruiting class for me.
Biggest Upside--Jarquez Samuel--Samuel is another player that could likely play in the NFL someday as a remarkably gifted defensive tackle. He's got the frame to put on plenty of pounds which will allow him to move inside and be a rather dominant player on the inside of the defensive line. Samuel, from a physical standpoint, is one of the more impressive players in the 2011 recruiting class because he's chiseled for a guy his size. He passes the eyeball test with flying colors and his film is equally as impressive. His wingspan and strength allow him to bring down opposing players when he gets anywhere near them. He's very athletic for a player his size and when you combine that with his strength, power, and size-well you've got yourself a player with an unlimited ceiling. Look for Samuel to do big things on the football field at Marshall and beyond.
Runner Up--Josue Joseph--I don't think there was any one player in the 2011 recruiting class that I used the phrase "upside" with more than Josue Joseph. He's only played two years of high school football but you can still see his athleticism and tremendous amount of potential at the position. Like Dick Ash mentioned, he doesn't have any bad habits so that will allow Bill Legg to mold him and teach him the proper fundamentals and techniques down the road.
Commitment Recruiting Award--Keith Baxter--For me this one isn't even close, Keith Baxter runs away with this one. Nobody recruited fellow players or tried to convince more players on the same level that Keith Baxter did in the 2011 class for Marshall. He was persistent and relentless in his approach and was perhaps the coaching staff's biggest ally when it came to the recruiting trail. He tried to convince his fellow teammates Ricardo Williams and Theiren Cockran to come to Marshall with him and even got both prospects to take a visit to Huntington. For a player of Williams' caliber-that's an impressive accomplishment considering he had over 20 scholarship offers and was one of the most highly recruited defensive ends in the country. Baxter forged friendships with several Marshall targets like Kelvin Benjamin and Chevelle Buie and tried to convince them to come with him to Marshall as well. After he committed it was amazing how many people Keith Baxter was trying to get on board with him. It all comes down to the fact that he's a natural leader in so many ways-people just seem to listen to Keith and he has an excellent way about grabbing their attention. Baxter was such an integral part of the 2011 recruiting class-not only for his football ability but for his willingness and eagerness to try and convince others to join him. For that, he easily takes the cake on this one.
Runner Up--Blake Frohnapfel--Frohnapfel was definitely the most important part of getting his brother to make the commitment switch from West Virginia to Marshall. He stayed on top of him, didn't give up, and like all great recruiters-was relentless in his approach. There's no question Eric Frohnapfel doesn't end up at Marshall without his brother being constantly in his ear. He definitely gets the runner-up award.
Team that Marshall Hurt the Most--Florida International University--There's no question that Marshall hurt FIU the most-stealing the crown jewel of Mario Cristobal's recruiting class--Rakeem Cato. Cato's film is impressive there's no question about it and JaJuan Seider dealt the Panthers a crushing blow when he snatched him and Tommy Shuler out of Miami Central. Since Cato was such a big piece and the most highly rated member of the Panther's class at the time-Florida International easily wins this award.
Team that Hurt Marshall the Most--University of Miami--First the firing of Randy Shannon started a domino effect that sent Al Golden and company down to Miami-leaving an opening at Temple. Then Temple hired Steve Addazio which hired Sean Cronin and Zach Smith away from Marshall University. Then Al Golden landed players like Ricardo Williams and he even tried to offer MU signee Craig Wilkins as a defensive back. Al Golden is well known as one of the best recruiters in college football and he will continue to be a thorn in Marshall's side the next couple of years-especially since he's at a big-time program like Miami. Not only will he be fishing from the same pond that Marshall will be, he's also at a big-time BCS conference school-which will likely lead to several heated battles between the MU coaching staff and the Canes' coaching staff. The Hurricanes win this award-no question about it. They could be in this same spot for years to come.
As always remember that HerdNation is your premiere source for Marshall football recruiting coverage!
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