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William & Mary, Cato, Luck, Switzer and Hereford

By Frank Giardina

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- William & Mary is in town today to play West Virginia's Mountaineers, and there's a strong state tie in the Tribe's recent basketball history.

One of the best players to play on the historic Williamsburg, Va., campus was guard David Schneider, a senior on the 2009-10 Tribe team that won 22 games. Schneider is just one of two players in William & Mary history to score 1,400 points, grab 400 rebounds and have 300 assists. He also won the CAA's basketball leadership award that season.

Schneider is the son of Jeff Schneider, a schoolboy legend from Clarksburg Washington Irving High School. As a junior in 1977, he lit up the state tournament at the old Charleston Civic Center with his scoring and led his team to the state championship game, where they lost to Willie Akers, Vic Herbert and Logan. Schneider went on to play at Virginia Tech. 

  • I'm not sure that even many Marshall fans realize the significance of Friday's Military Bowl win over Maryland. The victory serves as a Heisman Trophy showcase for Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato.
  • ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Danny Kanell has been talking about Cato for a while. On Friday, studio analyst Mark May took notice. Now the Bleacher Report and others are on board. On Twitter, during the game, CBS college football columnist Dennis Dodd, one of the most-read college football writers in the country, also raved about Cato's play.

    Cato will now be on the fringe of the Heisman talk in August and early September. As the 2014 season plays out, if he stays healthy, Cato will have a chance to move up the discussion ladder. He should put up eye-popping numbers against a revamped Conference USA similar to past quarterback winners Andre Ware and Robert Griffin III. Those numbers, coupled with team wins, could allow him to become Marshall's third Heisman invitee to New York in the last 20 years.

  • Speaking of the Heisman, I think the voters got it wrong in 2011. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck should have won the Heisman in his senior season. The RGIII bandwagon got rolling the last half of the season and voters got caught up in the "new guy." They took Luck's every-game brilliance for granted. I was convinced the voters got it wrong then. Now, two years into their NFL careers, I am more convinced than ever that I was right.
  • Many fans in our state are bemoaning the fact that Kennedy Award winner Ryan Switzer of George Washington High School ended up at North Carolina instead of WVU, but how about if the kid had landed in Huntington?
  • Marshall coach Doc Holliday has assembled a team that would probably beat the Tar Heels right now, and wide receiver Tommy Shuler is only the eighth receiver in major-college football history to have back-to-back 100-catch seasons. Can you imagine adding Switzer to the stable of receivers in Bill Legg's offense? 

  • Finally, our area lost a distance-running great earlier this month. The death of St. Albans native Carl "Eddie" Hereford may not have resonated with many area sports fans, but you should know his story.
  • Hereford was a 1965 graduate of St. Albans High School who then joined the Air Force and became a world-class marathon runner. He competed in the 1968 and 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials against eventual gold medalist Frank Shorter.

    Hereford ran the Boston Marathon four times and once held the North Carolina marathon record. He taught school in eastern North Carolina for almost 30 years before retiring in 2003 and returning to St. Albans.

    At Hereford's funeral, legendary St. Albans basketball coach Tex Williams recalled that he also coached boys cross country for the Red Dragons. Since he knew little about training distance runners, he had asked Hereford to design a training program for him. Following Hereford's plan, Williams laid the foundation for a St. Albans cross country program that won state championships in 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1976.

    It was not headline news when our area lost Hereford on Dec. 15, but he was an important part of our state's athletic history. 

    Reach Frank Giardina at flg16@hotmail.com.

     


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