HUNTINGTON - Yes, A.J. Leggett is alive, well and eligible in the Marshall backfield. And Doc Holliday expects it to stay that way.
In fact, any academically oriented speculation irritates the third-year Thundering Herd head coach - including the theory that Leggett is in Huntington because of doubts he would make the needed test scores.
"That shouldn't the assumption," Holliday said. "That's the word people put out there - because he comes to Marshall he must be an academic issue, and that's not the case. He's a great player and he loves Marshall. Kind of [makes me upset], to be honest. He's coming to a good program, a great tradition, a great school."
Leggett, a Miami native listed at 5-foot-11, 186 pounds, was rated four stars by Rivals and ESPN.com, ranked as the ninth and 12th cornerback, respectively. His reported offers included Alabama, Florida, Nebraska and Ohio State.
Sporting No. 1, Leggett showed a little bit of why he was so in demand. In one seven-on-seven drill, he broke up a pass and intercepted pass on consecutive plays.
In the split practices, Leggett will be trying to break up the passes of Blake Frohnapfel and Gunnar Holcombe through Thursday. Starting quarterback Rakeem Cato is working out in the afternoon, along with walk-on Tanner Owens.
Frohnapfel redshirted last year, staying on stand-by until finally checking out with a shoulder injury. Holcombe, a 6-foot-3 native of Fort Lauderdale, had his first collegiate practice Monday morning.
And he had his first formal experience Monday with quarterbacks coach Tony Petersen, who was pointing out footwork and/or throwing flaws on just about every play.
It wasn't a culture shock for Holcombe, though. He heard a few earfuls at his prep alma mater, the University School.
"I'm kind of used to that," he said. "If I didn't have the coach I had in high school, Coach Schneider [who] I had in high school, I'd be more frustrated and antsy. My junior year, I had a lot to work on and he was yelling and screaming. I learned to accept it . . . That just showed me he cared."
That coach is Ryan Schneider, a name that should ring a bell with Herd fans. Schneider was Central Florida's starting quarterback in the 2002 game against Marshall, when coach Mike Kruczek's smack-running Golden Knights lost 26-21 to the Herd.
Schneider can still yap a bit, and had mild parting shots for Holcombe.
"He messed with me a little bit [about going to MU], but he told me it was the best place for me," Holcombe said. "The coaches really cared for their players, and I'd like it up here."
While Holcombe and a number of freshmen arrived, several players departed.
Tight end Rakim Reed, who was in for spring, has left the program, as did linebacker T.J. Ross and offensive lineman Josue Joseph. Ross was once in the thick of the linebacking picture.
February signees not on the roster were offensive lineman Tyler Combs, tight end Chris Hall, linebackers Deyonte Henderson, Gary Thompson and Kent Turene and defensive back Corey Tindal. Holliday said Tindal and Turene will report when the fall semester begins.
There are a few position changes - Stefone Grace has shifted from linebacker to tight end, while Evan McKelvey has moved from safety to linebacker.