HUNTINGTON — On Saturday, Alabama associate head coach/running backs coach Charles Huff was offered the vacant head coaching position at Marshall University.
Pending approval by Marshall’s Board of Governors, Huff comes to Marshall with the distinction of being the nation’s best recruiter — that coming from 247Sports prior to the 2020 season.
One of Huff’s biggest recruiting jobs at Marshall may come in his first week as head coach.
Huff’s task will be to win over the players on Marshall’s current roster, who were vocal in support of defensive coordinator Brad Lambert as the successor to Doc Holliday.
Lambert led Marshall’s defense to top-five rankings in FBS last season, including leading all of college football in scoring defense, allowing just 13.0 points per game.
The Herd’s total defense finished second nationally behind Army while the rushing defense was fourth, allowing under 100 yards per game on the ground.
Lambert’s success and his rapport with players resonated on social media as news of Huff’s hiring broke on Saturday.
“WE WANT LAMBERT!” Marshall senior tight end Xavier Gaines said in a tweet.
“What To Do?” said Nazeeh Johnson, a senior safety and one of the Herd’s leaders.
Huff comes to Marshall at one of the most unique times in college football history.
Due to COVID-19, all student-athletes from the 2020 season are eligible to return after being granted an extra year of eligibility.
Especially for Marshall’s seniors — such as Gaines and Johnson, there will be a tough decision to make as to whether they stay with the Herd under Huff or enter the NCAA transfer portal as graduate transfers.
There is also NCAA legislation that could pave the way for a one-time transfer exception for all student-athletes that could further make things difficult for Huff to keep Marshall’s current roster intact.
That legislation was expected to be voted on early last week, but was delayed by the NCAA.
While many of the team’s players were in favor of Lambert, some were pleased that the uncertainty surrounding the vacancy is over.
“MOOD bc we finally know who our head coach is!” Marshall wide receiver Talik Keaton said on Twitter.
Marshall finished 7-3 last season, but three consecutive losses made a disappointing end to a promising campaign in which the team started 7-0 and was ranked as high as No. 15 nationally.
As of now, the Herd has the talent to again return to the Conference USA championship game and contend for a league title.
Achieving that goal is contingent upon that talent returning to the program, however, which is essentially Huff’s first recruiting stop when he gets to Huntington.
Huff got a big boost in those efforts late on Saturday when Will Ulmer — a veteran leader and senior offensive tackle — pledged his support for Marshall’s program.
“I love that M on my helmet too much to ever play anywhere else ... I bleed Kelly Green,” Ulmer’s tweet said.
With Marshall players returning to campus over the weekend to get started with spring semester and the team’s offseason program, the answer as to whether Huff will gain their support is likely to come sooner than later.
The response by the players will not only impact the immediate future for the Herd, but also Huff’s recruiting plans for the last two weeks before finalizing the Class of 2021 on Feb. 3.