HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Thundering Herd greats Byron Leftwich, Randy Moss, Chad Pennington and John Wade will return to campus for a glorious evening on April 23 when Marshall combines the annual Big Green Scholarship Banquet with a special Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.
The Big Green Banquet featuring a special Sons of Marshall Hall of Fame induction will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 23 at the new Marshall University Student Recreation Center just across the street from the Joan C. Edwards Stadium where this quartet of champions made football history for the Thundering Herd.
“We are ecstatic that these four are going into the Hall of Fame together,” said Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick. “What they achieved at Marshall and even now in the National Football League, underlines the outstanding football program the university has provided its fans and alumni. This special evening is the best way we can show them how grateful we are.”
From 1994 through 2002 when Wade, Pennington, Moss and Leftwich played for the Herd, Marshall University posted a 104-18 won-loss record, eight seasons of at least 10 wins, two undefeated seasons, one national championship, seven conference championships and five consecutive bowl victories.
All four have already been elected to the Marshall University Athletic Hall of Fame, however because of their pro football careers, they have not been able to be inducted at the usual fall ceremonies. The normal Hall of Fame Induction banquet will be held again this fall.
John Sutherland, executive director of the Big Green Scholarship Foundation, said, “This is the second year we’ve had nationally renowned M.U. athletes honor us at our featured fundraiser.”
Last year Mike D’Antoni, current coach of the New York Knicks, spoke to a packed-house audience.
“We expect another full house on April 23,” said Sutherland. “Our Big Green staff is prepared to take reservations now.” Sutherland said corporate sponsorships will be $2,000 for a table of eight and single tickets will be $80. Paid reservations can be made at the Big Green office or by calling 304-696-4661 or toll free at 866-443-7310. The banquet time is set for 7 p.m. with a 6 p.m. reception for corporate table sponsors and their guests.
Leftwich was with the Herd from 1998 to 2002, leading the team to Mid-American Conference Championships in 2000 and 2002. He set MAC records in total offense with 12,084 yards, completing 939 passes for 11,903 yards and 89 touchdowns. He was the MVP of three bowl games leading the Herd to victories in the Motor City Bowl in 2000 and back-to-back GMAC Bowls in 2001 and 2002, the 2001 GMAC bowl was the now famous “Miracle in Mobile” double-overtime, 64-61, win over East Carolina. In 2002 he became the highest MU player and MAC player ever drafted (No. 7 in the first round) in the National Football League. He has played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tampa Buccaneers in a 10-year pro career.
Moss was a first team consensus All-American at Marshall in both 1996 (1-AA) and 1997 (Division IA) seasons with the Herd. In 1997 he won the Biletnikoff award, symbolic of the nation’s best college wide receiver and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. During his Marshall career, Moss caught 168 passes for 3,356 yards and 53 touchdowns, setting a national record with 28 touchdowns in 1996 and a Division I record 25 touchdowns in 1997. He was drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings (21st overall). In his 12 pro seasons with the Vikings, the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots he has a multitude of honors and league records. In his NFL career history, Moss is currently second all-time with 148 touchdowns receptions, sixth all-time with 14,465 receiving yards and 10th all-time with 926 pass receptions.
Pennington, as a four-year starter for Marshall, quarterbacked the team to 45 victories, including a 25-1 mark in his last two years. He tops the Herd career marks in total offense (13,048 yards), passes attempted (1,619), net yards (13,143), and touchdown passes (115).He led Marshall to three consecutive MAC championships and three Motor City Bowl games. In his senior year, the 1999 Thundering Herd had a 13-0 record and a season-ending No. 10 national ranking. Among his many college honors, Chad was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1999 and the winner of the prestigious Vincent DePaul Draddy Trophy which is presented annually by the National Football Foundation to the top student-athlete in college. Pennington was drafted 18th overall in the 2000 NFL draft. He has played for the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. In both 2006 and 2008 he was chosen the NFL Comeback Player of the Year – the only person is history to win this honor twice. His career pass completion percentage record of 66.1 is the highest in NFL history.
Wade, an offensive lineman both at Marshall and in the NFL, was an all-Southern Conference first team center in 1996 when Marshall won the NCAA Division 1-AA National Championship and in 1997 he was a first-team All-MAC selection that helped the Herd to the Mid-American Conference Championship and a bowl berth in the first Motor City Bowl. He was drafted in the 5th round of the 1998 NFL draft and has been a perennial starter for 10 years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders.
Marshall’s annual Green and White Spring Football Game is schedule to take place the following day on Saturday, April 24.