Marshall hires Alabama assistant Huff as football coach

AP Sports

FILE – In this Aug. 5, 2017, file photo, then-Penn State special teams coordinator Charles Huff speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football team’s media day in State College, Pa. Marshall has given Alabama’s Huff his first head coaching job. Marshall announced Huff’s hiring Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (Phoebe Sheehan/Centre Daily Times via AP, File)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Marshall has given Alabama’s Charles Huff his first head coaching job.

Marshall announced Huff’s hiring Sunday. Huff spent the past two seasons as the Crimson Tide’s associate head coach and running backs coach and is widely known as a top recruiter.

The 37-year-old Huff is Marshall’s first Black head football coach. He is a 2005 graduate of Hampton, where he played center, guard, fullback and tight end.

Huff replaces Conference USA coach of the year Doc Holliday, whose contract was not renewed. Marshall started the season 7-0 and moved up to No. 15 in The Associated Press poll before losing its final three games. Holliday went 85-54 in 11 seasons, winning the league title in 2014.

“My family and I are so excited to be joining the Marshall University football program,” Huff said in a statement. “The history, tradition and passionate fan base this university has is second to none. To the current players, former players, fans and supporters, it’s time to unite like never before. We’ve got work to do and we need everyone working together to take this program to the next level!”

Marshall’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet Monday to approve Huff’s contract. An introductory news conference will be held later.

The hiring comes less than a week after Alabama beat Ohio State for the national championship. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said he was happy to see Huff “get the well-deserved opportunity to run his program. We always want our coaches to grow and advance in the profession and Charles has worked very hard to earn this opportunity.”

Among Huff’s other stints as an assistant included Mississippi State and Penn State. He also spent a season with the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.

Under Huff, consensus All-America running back Najee Harris rushed for 1,224 yards in 2019 and 1,466 yards this season. At Penn State, he recruited and developed consensus All-American Saquon Barkley.

“This is an exciting day for Marshall University football and I can’t wait for Coach Huff to get here,” Marshall President Jerome Gilbert said. “He is going to energize the Herd fanbase and I know folks are going to love him and his style of football.”

Marshall’s defense led the nation with 13 points allowed per game and gave up the second-fewest yards at 279 per game. But Marshall was outscored 59-23 in its final three games.

Marshall will return quarterback Grant Wells, the conference’s freshman of the year. Wells completed 61% of his passes for 2,091 yards with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

But running back Brenden Knox and defensive lineman Darius Hodge are skipping their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft. Hodge led Marshall with 6 1/2 sacks and nine tackles for loss.

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