Our summer tour of FBS schools looks at the specialists for the Marshall Thundering Herd.
"No longer does the kicking game consist of just kicker Justin Haig and punter Tyler Williams. Sure, the veterans are certainly in the running for the top spots at their positions, but there are an impressive pair of freshmen that continue to get reps and make the most of the opportunity in fall camp. Those players are Amoreto Curraj, a freshman from Leto H.S. in Tampa, Fla., and Nick Smith, a freshman from Jonathan Alder H.S. in Plain City, Ohio. Both are still learning proper techniques in terms of the shifting of weight from plant foot to kicking foot and cleaning up some of the things that were hindering their ability to be consistent. Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg has spent numerous hours with both as they go through kicking and kickoff repetitions....While the mechanics are coming around, both Curraj and Smith have shown the Thundering Herd coaching staff something that cannot be taught -- having a thunder-foot."Kicker: Justin Haig, junior (Delray Beach, FL / American Heritage HS)
"Haig's health problems [last season] were well known. After booting a career-long 45-yard field goal to beat Houston - while hitting a perfect squib on his final kickoff and making a big solo tackle on another kickoff on top of that - Marshall Coach Doc Holliday revealed the significant pain from back spasms that Haig was suffering. He was in treatment three times a week and taking muscle relaxers and antibiotics just to play.... Haig said the offseason has done wonders for his back pain, which has allowed him to double down on conditioning. 'It's a lot better,' the 5-foot-8, 188 pound redshirt junior said. 'I feel a lot more energized and can do stuff in the weight room. The first couple of months or so, January or February, it was still lingering. I couldn't do squats and all that stuff. I feel a lot better now, so I can focus a lot more on kicking now'."Kicker: Trent Martin, sophomore (Virginia Beach, VA / Floyd E. Kellam HS)
"My goal for this season is to come back from the summer offseason bigger and stronger than ever and the best shape that I have ever been in. I went back home to the beach for the summer so I took advantage of it, I would run three miles a day and agility drills at the beach every morning and then I would hit the weight room hard for two hours. On days that I did not have work I would kick at my high school as well. I just want to be able to show my coaches upon my return that I am worthy of playing for Marshall University and that I belong with the veterans."Punter: Tyler Williams, sophomore (Fort Wayne, IN / R. Nelson Snider HS)
Williams was named to the Ray Guy Award Preseason Watch List. Williams, who was Conference USA’s only semifinalist for the Guy Award last season, averaged 45.19 yards per punt in 2012, which was the ninth-best nationally and No. 2 in C-USA. He was selected as a first-team Freshman All-American by CollegeFootballNews.com following the season. Williams’ average was a Marshall single-season record, topping the 45.08 by Travis Colquitt in 1994. Williams, a Fort Wayne, Ind., resident, also was the top freshman punter in FBS in 2012. Thirteen of his 43 punts went 50 or more yards (long of 66) and he placed 16 inside the 20-yard line.
"His attempts against a live rush included a 61-yarder, another of 58, one of 51 with eternal hang time and a 53-yarder that he didn't hit solidly. He finished the [8/10/13] exhibition with a 52.4-yard average...
He said he spent the summer in a rehab that kept a disc problem from becoming a disaster. 'It has its good days and its bad days, just like anything else,' said the sophomore from Fort Wayne, Ind. 'A lot of it, sadly, is weather - when it's colder, it's tighter; when it's warmer, it's better to be outside. I like to work out a lot, I like to run, lift weights a lot. A lot of it is staying active, keeping my back moving all of the time, not letting it get tight. Definitely, stretching it a lot and exercising a lot helps out'."
"I've really stretched a lot, getting my hamstrings more flexible so I can get through the ball better. I've shortened my steps a little bit, changed my drop a little bit. I've really worked on my stamina so I can hit more reps off my foot so I'm not dying. I don't really know if there's one, with all the little things that come into play.... I've been working on a couple different things pooch wise and drop wise. And I have the opportunity to do that now because the coaches have the confidence."
"I've been working hard all summer with the team getting ready for the first game and working on being as consistent as possible. We have a great team and I'm looking forward to a great season."Long snapper: Matt Cincotta, sophomore (Charlotte, NC / Charlotte Catholic HS)
Returning starter who played 12 games last year.
"I started long snapping in sixth grade and I really started taking it seriously in ninth grade because that's when I realized I could go to college for it," Cincotta said. "Everyone thinks you are just snapping the ball, but your whole body is involved. You use your legs, your corps -- everything at the same time. It's like a golf swing. Everything has to work at the same time."