Top 10 returning players at Marshall are led by RB Rasheen Ali in 2022

The top 10 returning players at Marshall are headlined by the nation's returning leader in touchdowns, RB Rasheen Ali.

The Marshall Thundering Herd are entering their first year of Sun Belt action with a stacked class of returning players in 2022. Marshall returns the college football‘s leader in rushing touchdowns after RB Rasheen Ali burst onto the scene. With a transfer portal swap at quarterback, Henry Colombi will have some talented weapons to throw to, but the defense takes center stage after Ali. Just who are Marshall’s top returners in 2022?

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Top 10 returning players at Marshall

The countdown to the regular season continues here during Pro Football Network’s Top 10 Returning Players series. We’ve crossed the country to the Sun Belt and are firmly entrenching ourselves across the southeastern portion of the country with our look into each FBS team. Looking only at players returning to their same team from a season ago — we’ll deal with transfers later –, we’re counting down all the top 10 players returning to action on every team. Here are the top returners from Marshall.

10) Jayden Harrison, WR

After a solid season in 2021, Jayden Harrison impressed through spring practices to those in attendance. Harrison wins from the inside with quick feet and solid separation ability. Pairing him against linebackers is a mismatch due to his speed and agility over the middle. Harrison also displayed a knack for coming down with the ball since being thrust into action last fall.

9) Sam Burton, EDGE

A true down lineman with the size to kick off-ball, Sam Burton returns as a terrific pass rusher. As he’s likely heading for more snaps in 2022, Burton can rely on his ability to speed past slower tackles off the edge when rushing the passer. But he can truly rely on his stalwart skills in run defense that he put on display against Navy to start the season in 2021.

8) Kendrick Sartor, OT

Despite replacing three five-year starters on the offensive line, Kendrick Sartor returns to anchor the right side. He’s strong in pass protection and perhaps even better in the run game, where he opens up big holes for his backs to break through.

7) Eli Neal, LB

The true middle linebacker of a talented group, Eli Neal returns after dominating in every facet a year ago. Neal had a team-high 5.5 sacks despite blitzing on just a handful of snaps. He was terrific against the run, but his coverage ability paved the way for three pass breakups and an interception last season. With another season like he had in 2021, Neal will become a household name in the Sun Belt.

6) Koby Cumberlander, EDGE

A big man off the edge, Koby Cumberlander is a talented pass rusher with an edge. It didn’t matter where Cumberlander lined up a season ago — he just simply got home with pressure more often than not. At 6’3″, Cumberlander has a size advantage to him when he rushes the passer from an off-ball alignment, picking and choosing his gaps to hit, and reaching his blocker ahead of time.

5) Charlie Gray, LB

Excelling in all facets, Charlie Gray was a dramatically improved player in 2021 despite not starting. As he’s thrust into the starting lineup in 2022, expect big things from him. Gray has stellar length no matter what he’s tasked with on defense. If he’s blitzing, he uses his frame to his advantage to beat his blocker to the punch. If he’s dropping in coverage, he’ll cut off underneath passing lanes. And if he’s stopping the run, he’ll use his underrated strength at the point of attack to stymie the gain.

4) Micah Abraham, CB

After an outstanding outing a season ago, Micah Abraham returns as one of the top options at cornerback in the Sun Belt. As the Thundering Herd transition to the conference, Abraham can utilize his sticky coverage ability and length, similar to his teammate below, to his advantage against some of the top passing attacks in the Sun Belt this season. Abraham is long and limits receivers incredibly well in coverage, not allowing any big plays against true passing offenses.

3) Corey Gammage, WR

Leading the team in receptions and yards a season ago, Corey Gammage displayed impressive body control and even better hands in 2021. He’s back to aid Henry Colombi in his effort as the starting quarterback with his ridiculous catch radius for his size. At 6’4″, Gammage has ridiculous length and uses it to its full extent against any number of defensive backs. He also has plenty of speed and is a weapon at any level of the field.

2) Steven Gilmore, CB

A dominant coverage defender, Steven Gilmore entered the 2021 season with high draft aspirations. He’ll enter 2022 with similar aspirations but in need of a rebound season. Gilmore, the younger brother of Indianapolis Colts CB Stephon Gilmore, has terrific size at 6’2″ and plays as long as you’d expect. He’s a ball hawk with incredible instincts in coverage. Very few can burst to the ball like he can with his rare combination of closing speed and length.

1) Rasheen Ali, RB

Leading the nation with a ridiculous 23 rushing touchdowns, it’s safe to say no one burst onto the scene like Rasheen Ali did a year ago. Ali broke out for 1,401 rushing yards on just 250 carries, averaging a whopping 5.6 yards per attempt. Making the freshman’s debut even more impressive was the fact that he also caught 45 receptions for 334 yards and another touchdown. That kind of all-around impact in Year 1 of a career is impressive. And Ali’s just getting started.

Honorable mention players returning to Marshall in 2022

  • Elijah Alston, EDGE
  • Talik Keaton, WR
  • Shadeed Ahmed, WR
  • Logan Osburn, G/C
  • Abraham Beauplan, LB
  • E.J. Jackson, S

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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