HUNTINGTON - In the unexpected personnel move of the day, D.J. Hunter started at strong-side linebacker for Marshall.
Hunter was moved forward from safety, where the redshirt freshman was behind Dominick LeGrande and Okechukwu Okoroha. The 5-foot-10, 199-pound Hunter supplanted Raheem Waiters, the Riverside High graduate who started the Thundering Herd's opener at West Virginia.
Freshman Devon Johnson moved across the ball to tight end, and he began his college career as a fullback in a short-yardage formation in the first quarter. The 6-2, 225-pound native of Richlands, Va., became the third true freshman to play this season, with backup center Cameron Dees entering the game in the second quarter to become the fourth.
"We're trying to get our best players on the field," said MU coach Doc Holliday. "He was one of our best 11, so he had to play. He brings some athleticism to the position, and I thought he did a good job."
Hunter had been the nickel back, but his new position affords him a lot more playing time. Hunter said that, in a way, he didn't really move positions.
"It's a nickel. It's a 'Sam,' but it's a nickel," he said. "It's not real bad except when I have to go 'in the box' and fit the run gaps. That's different, way different."
A.J. Leggett, a highly touted recruit expected to contend at cornerback, will redshirt. He had shoulder surgery and Holliday said he is out for the year.
Dees entered at right guard, giving John Bruhin a rest. Eventually, Dees will have to produce at center, as starter Chris Jasperse has carried the load so far. Jasperse played all 105 snaps last week at WVU, and played deep into the fourth quarter against Western Carolina Saturday night.
Elsewhere, Trent Martin handled the kickoffs, while Justin Haig remained on field goals and extra points. Haig made a short field goal but missed a 37-yarder.