Marshall hires Alabama assistant Huff as head coach

Mickey Welsh, Montgomery Advertiser via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Marshall has given Alabama’s Charles Huff his first head coaching job.

Marshall announced Huff’s hiring Sunday. Huff spent the past two seasons as the Crimson Tide’s associate head coach and running backs coach and is widely known as a top recruiter.

The 37-year-old Huff is Marshall’s first Black head football coach. He is a 2005 graduate of Hampton, where he played center, guard, fullback and tight end.

Huff replaces Conference USA coach of the year Doc Holliday, whose contract was not renewed. Marshall started the season 7-0 and moved up to No. 15 in The Associated Press poll before losing its final three games. Holliday went 85-54 in 11 seasons, winning the league title in 2014.

“My family and I are so excited to be joining the Marshall University football program,” Huff said in a statement. “The history, tradition and passionate fan base this university has is second to none. To the current players, former players, fans and supporters, it’s time to unite like never before. We’ve got work to do and we need everyone working together to take this program to the next level!”

Marshall’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet Monday to approve Huff’s contract. An introductory news conference will be held later.

The hiring comes less than a week after Alabama beat Ohio State for the national championship. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said he was happy to see Huff “get the well-deserved opportunity to run his program. We always want our coaches to grow and advance in the profession and Charles has worked very hard to earn this opportunity.”

Among Huff’s other stints as an assistant included Mississippi State and Penn State. He also spent a season with the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.

Under Huff, consensus All-America running back Najee Harris rushed for 1,224 yards in 2019 and 1,466 yards this season. At Penn State, he recruited and developed consensus All-American Saquon Barkley.

“This is an exciting day for Marshall University football and I can’t wait for Coach Huff to get here,” Marshall President Jerome Gilbert said. “He is going to energize the Herd fanbase and I know folks are going to love him and his style of football.”

Marshall’s defense led the nation with 13 points allowed per game and gave up the second-fewest yards at 279 per game. But Marshall was outscored 59-23 in its final three games.

Marshall will return quarterback Grant Wells, the conference’s freshman of the year. Wells completed 61% of his passes for 2,091 yards with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

But running back Brenden Knox and defensive lineman Darius Hodge are skipping their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft. Hodge led Marshall with 6 1/2 sacks and nine tackles for loss.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.