New ol coach adkins happy to be home with the herd sports williamsondailynews.com

The cross lanes, west virginia, native came to marshall university as a player from 1986-89 and also began his career in coaching in huntington from 1991-95 before the roads of football took him all over the nation and to every level.

Adkins coached offensive linemen in the NFL during the 2013 season with the buffalo bills and he also has 25 years of experience under his belt at each level of the college game, ranging from southeastern conference stints at georgia and tennessee to four years in the big east at syracuse, three years in the big 12 at oklahoma state and his most recent venture in conference USA at charlotte before he was hired in february by marshall.Adkins coached

And on tuesday, he got that hometown feel once again as he jogged onto the field to lead marshall’s offensive linemen in their first practice of the 2018 spring.

"It means everything," adkins said. "It’s one of the schools that gave me an opportunity coming out of high school like so many young men look for today. They gave me an opportunity to come here at a time when things were just okay here."

In looking at the teams that helped turn around marshall’s tradition, many look to the most obvious choices – the 1992 team that adkins was an assistant on that scored the program’s first NCAA I-AA (now FCS) championship, the 1996 program that went undefeated and laid a solid transition into division I-A (now FBS), the 1999 team that went undefeated in only its third year of division I-A football and finished ranked no. 10 nationally and the 2014 team that won the school’s first C-USA championship.Being back

However, adkins said the journey started well before that, and that he was blessed to be on the teams that really helped turn the program from being mediocre in the I-AA ranks into a national power that paved the way for the growth and opportunity at the division I-A level.

"The team had been around 6-5, 5-5, 5-6 and back and forth before that, but that group of kids – or I guess men – that came in over those next couple of years were some changers of a lot of people’s lives around here – that ’86, ’87, ’88 group," adkins said. "Obviously, there have been many other teams, but I think that group is a group that maybe doesn’t get all the credit it deserves."

Adkins said

Being part of that group is something adkins takes great pride in because after the school nearly dropped its football program following the 1970 plane crash it is important to remember the history and personal importance to people who have bought into what marshall is all about.

"It’s about the foundation of what’s been set – the foundation of our program and our university," adkins said. "It’s the foundation that we all, as former players, want for this university – that’s to succeed. It means the world to us. As an alumnus and now as a coach and employee here, there’s that extra edge of excitement and pride."

Adkins said

"He still has the same motor behind him that coach (alex) mirabal had, which we as an offensive line unit love about him," marshall center levi brown said. "Whenever we first started here, he let us know that he had other job offers – some that would’ve offered more money – but he didn’t give a damn because he wanted to come here, no matter what. He loves this place and he told us that he helped put the bleachers together for this place as a GA because that’s what they did back then. He laid the foundation for this stadium and he’s laying the foundation for a really great O-line."

Adkins said

Brown is the centerpiece of the herd’s strong nucleus that returns all five starters from the end of the 2017 season. That number will grow to six experienced returning starters if nate devers, who is dealing with a pending legal matter, is reinstated from an indefinite suspension.

"The thing I’m most excited about is that they come from getting some experience to another year in the weight room because that’s where you need it to really make the next step as a lineman," he said. "Now, they’ve got a different voice in the room. … So with all that going on, each day is new for them again, which is good because they don’t run into a routine situation."

Adkins said

Adkins being back in huntington as an assistant for the first time in 23 years is a reunion in the making. His last time coaching in huntington was 16 years ago when he was an assistant at troy during the 2002 season.

That was the first of four times that adkins coached against the herd – two others were at tennessee (2003 and 2006) before last year’s battle against the herd in C-USA while at charlotte.

During last year’s charlotte trip, adkins almost proved prophetic during an interview when he said he looked forward to one day being back on the sideline in huntington.

At the time, he expected that would be with the charlotte 49ers as an assistant during the 2018 season.Adkins coached as fate had it, though, adkins will spend all of his college football saturdays with the herd this year, and he couldn’t be happier.

"You just never know," adkins said with a smile. "You never know in this business. I’m excited to be back and working here again at marshall."