Doc Holliday has carved out an impressive legacy in Huntington, West Virginia as head coach of the Marshall Thundering Herd, but his reputation and legacy as one of the nation’s top recruiters preceded him as an assistant coach for many years.
The Hurricane, West Virginia native had several coaching stops along the way to becoming head coach of the Herd, helping recruit some of the biggest names in college football history along the way. Holliday’s reputation as a recruiter was one of the most appealing qualities when Marshall hired him in December of 2009.
His recruiting prowess has led Marshall to its most successful recruiting period in school history over the past nine seasons. And heading into his 10th season as head coach in 2019, Holliday has helped recruit another top class in C-USA, which was solidified on the recent National Signing Day.
Between the early signing period in December and the normal signing day in February, the Herd has earned the second best class in C-USA according to 247 Sports and the 70th best class in the country as of 9:40 a.m. ET on Feb. 7. Marshall has two newcomers in this class who are considered four-star prospects by ESPN, 247 Sports, or Rivals.
This class will look to help Marshall build on a 9-4 season in 2018 that culminated in a Gasparilla Bowl win, the FBS-best seventh consecutive bowl victory for the Herd dating back to 2009. Marshall having a top class within C-USA is nothing new under Holliday. In fact, it has become the norm over the past several years.
Since his first recruiting class at Marshall in 2010, Holliday’s recruiting classes have never been lower than 87th nationally and have included classes as high as 51st nationally according to 247 Sports. In addition, since 2013 when conference realignment first set in within C-USA, the Herd has consistently posted top classes in C-USA.
From 2013 onward, the Herd has never been rated lower than sixth in C-USA in recruiting and has finished with the number one class four different times including two second place finishes. Throughout Holliday’s tenure, Marshall has out-recruited many Power Five conference schools along the way as well.
In fact, the top five all-time highest-rated recruits to ever sign with Marshall have all signed since Holliday has been the head coach, led by current linebacker and former four-star recruit/Alabama commit Jaquan Yulee. The Herd’s recruiting has taken a step up since its first several years in C-USA under then head coach Mark Snyder.
Marshall’s average recruiting ranking throughout Snyder’s five years as head coach was 74th in the country with an average rating of 77.54 per player according to 247 Sports. In comparison, Marshall’s average recruiting ranking under Holliday is 69th nationally with an average rating of 80.65 per player. Of course, circumstances are different with Holliday opposed to what they were with Snyder.
But the Herd’s recruiting has noticeably gotten better under Holliday, and it has led to an overall record of 70-46 in his nine seasons as head coach of the Herd with two C-USA East Division Championships, one C-USA Championship, and a 6-0 record in bowl games. The knock on Holliday’s recruiting, however, is the number of players that never make it to campus or fail to play for the Herd in general.
Unfortunately, that’s just how things go sometimes. If Group of Five teams like Marshall don’t take chances on certain players that have academic issues or anything else, those players likely wouldn’t get another shot at redemption. And that’s a huge aspect to college football, seeing young men grow up and develop on and off of the field.
Does it always work out? Of course not. But if those chances aren’t taken, it doesn’t benefit the program or the players in question. And let’s not pretend like taking chances on players hasn’t benefited Marshall over the years. No matter what fans think about this tendency, it’s part of the deal. Even with the inevitable few long-term losses in recruiting, the Herd has still won with the players that do pan out.
Eligibility issues aside, there’s no denying Marshall is always a threat in the recruiting game with Holliday as head coach and that won’t change as long as he’s the head coach. The Herd hopes that trend of recruiting success will continue to lead to more wins, bowl game victories, and the first C-USA Championship since 2014.