Five Herd football players ink NFL free agent deals


HUNTINGTON — Five Marshall football players signed free agent contracts Saturday evening following the 2016 NFL Draft.

Deandre Reaves and Sebastian Johansson are headed to the San Diego Chargers, while Davonte Allen is going to the Buffalo Bills, Keith Baxter to the Minnesota Vikings and Devon Johnson to the Carolina Panthers.

Reaves was named Marshall’s Most Valuable Player, the 2015 Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year, while earning first-team all-league honors at kick return and second-team at punt return. He was also named MVP in the Thundering Herd’s 16-10 win over UConn in the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl. His 2,548 career return yards are a program record.

Johansson started 38 games, ranking in the top five all-time among Marshall offensive linemen in the major college era. A first-team all-league pick as a senior, he earned the program’s Jim Conard Award, honoring the team’s top offensive lineman.

Allen earned the program’s Chad Pennington Award in 2015, given to the offensive player who gives his all on and off the field. He finished 19th in school history with 1,612 receiving yards and tied for 20th with 13 touchdown catches. As a senior he set career-highs with 58 catches, 715 yards and five touchdown catches.

Baxter was a mainstay at corner last season, finishing his career with 66 tackles (40 solo), 14 pass breakups, two interceptions, one sack and one fumble recovery. He started 26 career games for the Thundering Herd and helped key one of the nation’s stingiest pass defenses in 2015, tying for second in yards per pass attempt allowed (5.5), third in pass breakups (72), fourth in pass efficiency defense (100.68), tied for fourth in passes defended (87) and tied for fifth in completion percentage allowed (49.8)

Johnson battled injuries during his senior season, but still finished 11th in school history with 25 rushing touchdowns. His 7.8 career yards per carry is the school record. His memorable 2014 season gained him Doak Walker semifinalist acclaim, while being named a first-team all-league pick. That season, he posted 10 100-yard games, setting a major college school record and tying Chris Parker’s overall mark, set three times (1993-95).

These five players helped Marshall amass a 33-8 record over the past three seasons, a mark that stands atop the Group of Five.

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