Orlando Oak Ridge athletes Andre Scott and Rayshawn Jackson got a taste this past weekend of what it means to hear the words, “We are Marshall,” in Huntington, W.V.
“It was like a little hometown, everybody was nice and everything,” said Scott (5-11, 175), who’s being recruited as a safety but plays quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back … pretty much anything coach Elijah Williams wants at Oak Ridge. He is currently ranked No. 13 in the Sentinel's 2012 Central Florida Super60 and No. 63 in the Sentinel's 2012 Florida Top 100.
“We got chauffeured all over town and we walked through the campus and noticed everything was really tight, close together, like the library and the classrooms … the stadium. All of it’s in one area.”
Scott has a cousin on the squad at Marshall. Offensive lineman Garrett Scott, of Douglas (Ga.) Coffee County High School, is a sophomore for the Herd.
Jackson (5-10, 170), who is ranked No. 16 in the Central Florida Super60 and No. 75 on the Florida Top 100, may have liked the trip more than his teammate, but right now both players said they would have to put Marshall on top of their lists, mostly since it was their first official visits.
“I liked it a lot,” said Jackson, who had said Wednesday that if he was overwhelmed by his visit he might even commit on the spot. “The coaching staff is great, the players were great, I loved the atmosphere. It’s like a little football-based town.
“To me I felt like I was in a hometown, and me and Scott talked about that while we were there. I didn’t [commit] though. I want to take a couple more visits so I can see where I stand. But I really like Marshall.”
Both Scott and Jackson, who are also being courted by UCF, said the recent talk surrounding the Knights’ possible affiliation with the Big East and/or of Conference USA’s likely merger with the Mountain West, will have no affect on their college decision.
“It doesn’t really matter,” Jackson said. “It’s not going to be like the SEC or anything like that, but it’s still college football, no matter what conference.”
“Whether they are in the Big East or not, that’s not really gonna change anything from how I feel about the school,” said Scott, whose top five of his 24 NCAA Division I-A offers is currently Marshall, UCF, Cincinnati, USF and South Carolina. “Either way, UCF is going to be a great team so it doesn’t matter [what conference].
“I haven’t been on an official visit to UCF, so I’ll take Marshall over UCF right now.”
Which is the biggest reason why UCF urges all its high-priority prospects to come to the Orlando campus for an official visit on their final trip of the NCAA-allotted five visits.
One other thing that Marshall recruits like about the Thundering Herd program -- at least Florida recruits anyway – is the coaching staff’s familiarity with the state.
“I think it’s 55 percent of the players are from Florida,” Jackson said, acknowledging head coach Doc Holiday’s Florida-based recruiting tactics that have made him very successful at many of his stops during his 33-year career.
Holiday was a Florida Gators’ assistant coach for three seasons (2005-07) under Urban Meyer and before taking on an upgraded role with West Virginia. This is his second season at Marshall. “It just seems like a Florida team. All the players are from Florida,” Jackson said.
And there was definitely one thing that stood out from Jackson’s meeting with Holliday.
“He’s pretty cool,” Jackson said. “One thing I remember he said was, ‘My job is to make sure you leave here with a degree in one hand and an NFL contract in the other.’ That really felt good.”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com.