At his press conference Oct. 30, coach Doc Holliday denied he had given Van his release, mentioning his mother's illness. Two weeks earlier, Holliday said Van has "got an issue, injury-wise, where he cannot practice. He has not been cleared by our doctors for physical contact."
Van missed spring drills with an injury - he told the Missoulian it was a torn labrum in his hip - and it is uncertain if that injury lingered, if another injury popped up during or after the Rice game, or if there was no significant injury at all. Van told the Missoulian, "I'm doing fine" physically.
Van played scholastically at Helix High, also alma mater of NFL players Reggie Bush and Alex Smith. After spending the fall of 2009 at Milford (N.Y.) Academy, he was rated a four-star recruit when signed with Florida. His position designation was "athlete."
He did not qualify as a freshman and sat out the 2009-10 season at Marshall. Upon joining the program, he dazzled in practice - in one scrimmage situation, he pulled a spin move so amazing it left star linebacker Mario Harvey grabbing air.
It took him time to find his way, but he turned in some highlight-reel plays. He had a 69-yard touchdown run against Tulsa, but his most important play was a 24-yard catch and run that set up the Herd's go-ahead touchdown in a bowl-clinching win against East Carolina.
He didn't have a good start in September, being held to 15 yards on 13 carries against Ohio. After that game, Herd coaches turned the running load over the all-freshman trio of Remi Watson, Kevin Grooms and Steward Butler, who combined for 1,617 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing. Grooms was named Conference USA's Freshman of the Year.
Van was last seen in his green No. 7 jersey on the sidelines in the Herd's Nov. 3 game against Memphis. He continued to back his teammates and has kept his Twitter comments positive.
"[Holliday] is a really good coach and we saw eye-to-eye, and he said he'd help me get to a school where they'd let me play offense," Van told the Missoulian.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, by e-mail at dougsm...@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.