Cronin didn't have to be introduced to the older players, for certain. He knew the story of senior Jeremiah Taylor, the team's 25-year-old elder statesman who literally walked in from the street and rose to his starting position.
Cronin knew of Alex Bazzie in 2010, but that was about it. Nobody then really knew that Bazzie would get ripped in the weight room and rip his way up the depth chart at defensive end - certainly not Cronin.
"Bazzie was the one that really surprised me," Cronin said. "He was a backup linebacker [in 2010], hadn't really played. Under Coach [J.C.] Price, he's really developed into a fine D-lineman. He's a high-motor guy and he goes really hard - when you watch the [NFL] draft every year, usually about a third of the first round is defensive linemen.
"And one thing they say about those guys is 'They're high-motor guys.' That's what Bazzie is. He isn't as big as some of those guys, but he's a high-motor guy; he doesn't quit.
"I was very impressed and surprised when I came back to see what a player he's become under Coach Price."
Price is still on the staff, now specializing in tutoring the defensive tackles.
MU will conduct its final scrimmage today before beginning its first game-week preparation for the Aug. 31 opener against Miami (Ohio). The scrimmage is closed.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
The five best games of Rakeem Cato's Marshall career, as ranked by NCAA passer efficiency rating:
Opponent, date Comp Att Yards TD Int Rating Result
East Carolina, Nov. 26, 2011 23 29 341 2 0 200.84 W, 34-27 (OT)
At East Carolina, Nov. 23, 2012 31 40 318 5 1 180.53 L, 59-65 (2 OT)
Western Carolina, Sept. 8, 2012 32 42 377 3 0 175.16 W, 52-24
Memphis, Nov. 3, 2012 34 44 341 4 0 173.37 W, 38-28
Tulsa, Nov. 6, 2012 31 44 391 3 1 163.05 L, 38-45