Herd notes: Allen's return ignites receivers battle
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- The battle at Marshall's "X" receiver position has been reignited with the return of Davonte Allen.
The 6-foot-2, 203-pound sophomore from Belle Glade, Fla., certainly can battle Shawney Kersey for the top deep threat, but must reverse his history of health problems. He missed the better part of last week, including Saturday's scrimmage.
Craig Wilkins, the top "Z" receiver coming out of spring, has been out for a while, and star slot receiver Tommy Shuler has yet to practice this month. Both may return next week.
That has freed up a lot of reps for others.
"The positive in all that is they got a lot of work," said MU coach Doc Holliday. "Now you can plug Davonte and Shuler back in there . . . and Wilkins, being out, too. He'll be back ready to roll Monday, too. With those three out, a lot of young kids have had to get a lot of reps, and I think in the long run it will pay off for us."
When Shuler returns, it should free up Demetrius Evans to go back outside full-time (he took first-team snaps at "Z" on Tuesday). Wilkins faces a major challenge when he returns, as true freshman Justin Hunt has risen to the first unit.
Gator Hoskins, the tight end predicted by some to win all-conference honors, has reasserted himself - and with the continued rise of Devon Johnson, that gives the MU coaching staff a good problem.
Hoskins pulled in a nice-looking touchdown from Blake Frohnapfel, for instance.
"The last two days I've noticed Gator," Holliday said. "He's missed all spring. I'm starting to see him doing things he was doing a year ago."
Johnson also caught a touchdown pass, as did Eric Frohnapfel, and all the tight ends are considered better blockers.
"I think all three tight ends have become more physical at the point of attack," Holliday said. "And they're doing a good job being able to block that 'nine' technique, or six or seven, whatever we ask them to do.
"And Devon Johnson, he's become a really physical guy. And Gator, too, I think those guys are very similar body-wise and athletically, and they can help us in a lot of different ways."
The week finishes with an officiated scrimmage at 7 p.m. That late hour is the game time of the Herd's season opener Aug. 31 against Miami (Ohio), but is just as much set to accommodate the Conference USA-assigned officiating crew.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.