Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 1971: excitement, anticipation filled the air

        In the first season after the Marshall plane crash that killed most of the school’s football team, nobody had any idea of what to expect. Ten months earlier, on November 14, 1970, the unthinkable happened. A team that had showed so much promise was no longer around. Yet, there was an air of excitement and anticipation that engulfed the school and the city of Huntington, West Virginia when preseason practice started in August of 1971.
       Most of the players on ’70 freshman team came back, as well as the few varsity players who for one reason or another, didn’t go on the fatal trip. Marshall football, however, still was in desperate need of able and willing bodies. The NCAA helped out by allowing MU to play freshmen in varsity games, an unprecedented move at that time. That year, Marshall was the only place in America where freshmen could play varsity football for an NCAA-sanctioned program.
       Charles Henry, a 17-year old linebacker from South Carolina, was among that cast of college rookie hopefuls who were eager to take full advantage of the new freshman rule. Henry proved to be a mainstay during his days with the Thundering Herd (’71-’74). As a freshman, he became the youngest player to start in an NCAA varsity college football game. In 2006, Henry was inducted into the Marshall University Sports Hall of Fame.
       Henry recently shared his experiences and recollections during an interview on the “Lawson Brooks Show” on blog talk radio. Click on the link below to listen to this half-hour interview.

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