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Mark Martin's Notepad

Marshall football has a Legg up with state native on board
October 23, 2013

Mark Martin It has long been said that some of the smartest, maybe the smartest, players on a football field toil in the trenches as offensive linemen
Talking with Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg you realize rather quickly that he exhibits quite the football intellect.

Legg, you see, once upon a time was one of those who tried to protect his quarterback and open holes for his running backs.

A big chunk of his football career, both playing and coaching, has been spent in the Mountain State of West Virginia.

Legg is currently in season number four as a member of Doc Holliday’s Thundering Herd football staff.

This marks his second go-round in Huntington as an assistant coach. He also served on Bob Pruett’s staff back in the season of 2001.

Legg loves football. He loves talking about the game. It’s enjoyable to chat with him, because you can always learn.

Along with Tony Peterson, Legg was responsible for an explosive offensive attack in 2012 with sophomore Rakeem Cato running the show. Peterson has since moved on to Louisiana Tech, leaving the offense in the capable hands of Legg, who was a four-year starter at center for West Virginia University.

“I have a ton of respect for Tony Peterson. Number one, because he’s a Son of Marshall,” said Legg recently.

Legg has the luxury of working with a lot of talented players once again in 2013, starting with Cato.

“One of the things I love about him the best is that he is a competitor,” Legg said. “You go play tiddly winks with him, he’s going to try and beat you. He tries to win every single play. He’s been that way since he walked on campus. That’s not something we developed.”

Just like his coach, Cato has a high football IQ.

“He can look at a defense and have a pretty good idea within a very high percentage of the time exactly what’s going to happen defensively before the ball is snapped.”

Legg was able to snap the ball to two of WVU’s finest while in Morgantown. First he did so to current athletic director Oliver Luck and then to Jeff Hostetler. Both went on to play in the National Football League and are members of the WVU Athletics Hall of Fame.

The playing days for Legg started as a Poca Dot. He was a standout for then head coach Don Jennings during the seasons of 1977-1979.
He has the distinction of being the first-ever recruit by Mountaineer coaching legend and College Football Hall of Famer Don Nehlen.

Following a redshirt season in 1980, Legg was a steady force at center in the seasons of 1981-84. He played in four straight bowl games as a Mountaineer.

He cut his teeth in coaching at his alma mater, serving as a graduate assistant coach in 1986 and 1987.

His first stint as an offensive coordinator came about in 1988 for West Virginia Tech, which no longer has a football program.

His first big break came in 1989 when he was named the offensive line coach at Eastern Illinois. He was there for five seasons.

He got closer to home in the season of 1994 when he became the offensive line coach at VMI. The head coach of the Keydets was another West Virginia native in the late Bill Stewart, who would later become the leader of WVU football in the seasons of 2008-10.

Legg left VMI to become an assistant under Nehlen in Morgantown. He was with the program from 1995 through 2000 (Nehlen’s last). He was the interior offensive line coach his first five seasons before becoming the offensive coordinator in 2000.

With Nehlen departing, Legg moved on to Huntington with Pruett and coached tight ends and served as recruiting coordinator in the 2001 and 2002.

For the next five years he coached at Purdue and was co-offensive coordinator in his final two with the Boilermakers.

Legg was at Florida International before returning to Huntington.
It’s interesting to note that he opposed the Herd as an assistant while at Eastern Illinois, VMI and WVU.

While he now coaches the quarterbacks, Legg still is very much involved with what is going on up front.

“It’s much more technical position than any position on the field,” Legg said of the offensive line. “It requires more physical development than any position on the field.”

He’s happy with what Marshall currently possesses up front. “Their fundamentals and techniques have continued to improve. (Offensive line) Coach (Alex) Mirabal is doing a wonderful job. (Strength) Coach (Scott) Sinclair is doing a wonderful job in the weight room (with making the athletes stronger).”

Legg sees Marshall’s program making significant strides. “The good news is we’ve continued to create depth. That’s where we’ve continued to close the gap the most.”

Not only a top-notch coach, Legg has also proven himself in the circles of recruiting.

He feels truly blessed to have been a part of the college football scene for such a long time. It started in Morgantown 33 years ago and continues on in Huntington.


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