Marshall football enters 2015 with a familiar motto: same places, different faces. For head coach Doc Holliday, he has always had a next guy up mentality, paving the way for virtually anyone on the roster to step up. As the 2015 season grows nearer, here is a list of five Marshall players that you probably have never heard of, but will before the season ends.
1. #9 Justin Hunt- WR (6-3, 203, Jr.): Hunt enters 2015 with something to prove after a let down season last year. Hunt finished with seven catches and 119 yards in 12 games. For Hunt, the ability has always been there, but consistency has not. Playing as a backup to Davonte Allen, Hunt's role will be to provide another deep-ball threat for the Herd's potent offense. Thus far in camp, Hunt has shown his consistency issues have been addressed and he can be a reliable deep target for the Herd's new quarterback Michael Birdsong. Hunt has won several jump ball battles with the Herd's physical secondary and there has been no drop off when he replaces Allen on the outside.
2. #9 Shawn Petty- LB (6-2, 241, RS-Jr): 2015 will be the first season for Petty with the Herd after transferring from Maryland. He spent last season on the scout team, providing a solid defender to combat the Herd's high-octane offense. While at Maryland, Petty moved from scout team linebacker to starting quarterback in his freshman season due to a plethora of injuries for the Terps. Petty last played in 2013, appearing in 13 games while recording 24 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks. He played against the Herd in the 2013 Military Bowl, won 31-20 by the Herd. Petty has great hands, reads the quarterback well and can drop into coverage, allowing him to work as a dual threat player.
3. #11 Rodney Allen- CB (5-11, 180, RS-So): Allen began his career with Marshall as a wide receiver last season, only to finish with the defensive backs. Allen was drowning in a sea of talent in a receiver class Holliday called his most talented ever. Rather than sink, Allen made the move and finds himself battling for playing time and possibly a starting role this season. With the assistance of receiver coach Mike Furrey, Allen is becoming one of the best corners on the field. After all, Furrey made the same transition during his eight-year NFL career. Allen saw action in all 14 Herd games last season, making 11 tackles; two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery. Throughout camp, Allen has gone toe-to-toe with nearly every Herd receiver, ultimately getting the upper hand.
4. #67 Sandley Jean-Felix- OL (6-5, 322, RS-So): Jean-Felix saw action in all 14 games for the Herd last season, but only played 66 offensive snaps, backing up All-Conference tackle Clint Van Horn. This season, Jean-Felix will work at left tackle while charged with protecting Birdsong's blindside. His footwork has drastically improved since last season but he possesses a feature that helps him when his feet fail—36-inch arms. His reach forces defenders to take much wider angles in their pursuit to the backfield. While keeping defenders away from Birdsong, Jean-Felix has done a stellar job opening running lanes for Devon Johnson and company to break big gains.
5. #13 Armonze Daniel- DE (6-4, 244, RS-Jr): Daniel appeared in all 14 games last season, earning two starts (Ohio and Akron). Daniel had 19 tackles, two for loss, and two forced fumbles last season working mostly as a back-up. With the loss of Ra'Shawde Myers and Arnold Blackmon—last season's starting defensive ends—Daniel is battling for a fulltime starting spot. Marshall needs to create pressure from the edge, and Daniel has been able to provide that in camp. Last season, Myers and Blackmon combined for 11.5 sacks and five forced fumbles, leaving the standards for the position at a high level.
Marshall's chances of repeating as Conference USA Champions are significantly better with solid production from the above mentioned. However, if they are the leaders of the unknown for the Herd, Frankie Hernandez, Antonio "Speedy" Howard and Keion Davis are the rookie wildcards, eager to make an impact in season one.