Zakee Bashir is a 6-foot-2, 212-pound strong side linebacker who is ranked as the No. 56 SLB in the nation by Scout.com (Herd Insider is a member of the Scout.com Network). He was getting interest from Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana of the Big Ten plus the ACC's Maryland and the Big East's Syracuse. The Rockets offered before the coaching change.
JCFootball.com (another website under the Scout.com banner) additionally learned on Monday that Marshall, in addition to the commitment of Butler QB Press Taylor, also received a commitment from Mendocino QB Jacob Laudenslayer.
Laudenslayer finished the season by completing 56% of his passes for 2,880 yards, 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while also running for 294 yards and one touchdown.
As a first year player for Mendocino, Laudenslayer rushed for over 600 yards at running back, caught 38 passes for over 400 yards at receiver and threw for 1,000 yards in just three games at quarterback. Laudenslayer told Jacob Messer of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, "I am coming to Marshall to play quarterback. I just would do anything to get on the field that first year, and I am a team player. I will do what the coaches ask me to do to win."
He also wanted to help re-establish the Marshall program of 1987-2004, when the Herd won two I-AA National Championships, played in four more, posted two undefeated seasons, played in seven bowls (winning five in a row), finished No. 10 and No. 25 in the nation in I-A, winning two conference titles in the Southern and five in the Mid-American and had Heisman Trophy finalists in Randy Moss and Chad Pennington, plus Byron Leftwich who finished sixth despite injuries.
Press Taylor is a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder out of Norman (Okla.) High School, but he didn't receive a lot of D-1 recruiting interest, so he decided to head to Butler for a number of reasons.
"My brother (former Nebraska QB Zac Taylor, who also almost came to Marshall) went to Butler and the coaches here are really good," Taylor told JCFootball.com earlier in October. "They have an outstanding program here. They always get guys ready for the next level and when you have receivers like I have to throw the ball to, well it makes it pretty easy actually."
Taylor was a red-shirt in 2006, His 2007 season and was off to a great start before he suffered a high ankle sprain. He is rated as a one-star recruit by Scout.com, but as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. Taylor contacted the Rivals.com site to advise of his commitment to the Thundering Herd over his weekend visit, which included later watching a Herd men's basketball win over Texas-Arlington, 81-68, as Marshall rallied from 18 points down.
"I have committed to Marshall," Taylor told Jamie Oakes of Rivals.com on Saturday evening before the game. "I did it around six o'clock. I am really excited." The quarterback chose the Herd over interest, but no confirmed offers, from Arizona State and Louisville. Taylor threw for 1,371 yards and 14 touchdowns in eight games this season for Butler. Taylor has 4.8 speed in the 40-yard dash.
He will be able to sign with the Herd on Dec. 17, the first signing day for junior college players. Marshall also expects to sign Laney (Calif.) C.C.'s safety Travis Ford and running backTroy Evans that day, although Ford took a visit to Colorado State this past weekend and will still check out Oregon this week before deciding where to sign.
Marshall’s other early commitments are Huntington (W.Va.) High School’s outstanding athlete, C.J. Crawford, 6-foot-2, 200-pounds with a 4.4 40-yard dash; James Rouse, a 6-foot-6 defensive end from Harrisonburg (Va.) HS; and 6-foot-3 wide receiver Freddie Moore of Austin HS in Decatur, Ala.
The addition of Taylor to the Herd's roster should make for interesting competition by the Herd's quarterbacks for the 2009 season as they sort out who the starter will be in spring. MU has returning junior quarterback Brian Anderson, who played very well as a starter in a three-point loss in the final game against Tulsa (14-of-19, two touchdowns); rising sophomore Mark Cann, who started the first 11 games of the year but battled shoulder injuries down the stretch; and Taylor.
Possibly in the mix is senior Johnathan Garner, although the Ga. Tech transfer may graduate this May (after appearing in only a sub-Varsity game at MU) and sitting out 2007, or he may drop to a lower division to play a year. The status of senior Wesley Beardain includes his recent graduation in December, and sources have indicated he is done with collegiate football playing. Beardain was used in the "Racehorse" formation a few plays until his shoulder was injured, and also did a very nice job in the secondary as a safety in the sub-Varsity game.