MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Morgantown High kicker John McConnell made his commitment to Marshall official Wednesday and joins the ranks of the Thundering Herd as a punter.
“It’s amazing. I was really happy to be recruited there and signed now,” McConnell said. “It’s a really great team atmosphere with some really great coaches. I was fortunate to build a really great relationship with special teams coordinator coach [Kyle] Segler and it took off from there.”
McConnell announced his full commitment to the Thundering Herd around 9 a.m. as part of National College Football Signing Day. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound specialist was one of five West Virginia players to verbally commit to stay in-state and join the Herd program – Michael Hughes (George Washington), Bryce Biggs (Spring Valley), Ethan Payne (Poca), and Caleb Bryan (Wheeling Park) – though Payne is the only other player to have also signed at the time of this publishing. He’s spoken to those four players recently, doing a podcast with them last week, and also has connections on the team. He looks forward to building more of a relationship with them in the coming years.
“All along, they [the coaches] said that, ‘If you come here you get to play close to home, your family will get to be at every game, it’s a great community and you should have the opportunity to play early on if you compete well,'” he said. “It was also a place where I felt comfortable with the players and coaches.
“I know a couple of the kickers on the team. I know the starting kicker Shane Ciucci, we train with the same coach in Buffalo. And I know Cameron Shirkey [who does the kickoff], we’ve been to a couple of camps together.”
Marshall (7-1), the Conference USA leader, announced Monday that the C-USA Championship game will be played in Huntington. The Herd will face UAB Friday at 7 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium to cap off what was one of the best regular seasons since 2015’s 10-win season. The Herds’ only loss was to Rice, a 20-0 shutout defeat in Huntington on Dec. 5, and the team has had two cancelations, meaning they will be unable to hit the 10-game mark again albeit not their fault as the COVID-19 pandemic still rages on. But McConnell is still excited to join The Herd during an upswing, noting the team is “a top-caliber team.”
“It really sets the expectation high for myself and to everyone else coming in,” he said. “It shows us what we need to do to be successful. I’ll be graduating early and enrolling there in mid-January, so I’m excited to get with the team and do all that offseason stuff, play in the spring game and get used to the college lifestyle and experience so I can be fully prepared for the season.”
McConnell is now the second Morgantown-area football player to head to Huntington, following UHS receiver Amir Richardson two years ago. Richardson now plays at the tight end position.
Other local football players to sign with college programs include:
- Tanner Slavic, MHS, DL; William and Mary; Slavic recorded seven tackles in 2020, as well as two QB hurries and one pass breakup.