Written by Justin Prince.
Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick and head football coach Doc Holliday were already in the market for a new offensive coordinator to replace Bill Legg after he stepped down from the position.
Now, Hamrick and Holliday will be shopping for a new defensive coordinator as well.
Chuck Heater, the Thundering Herd’s defensive coordinator since 2013, is leaving the school to take a position on the Maryland staff. According to Inside Maryland Sports a website run by 247 Sports, Heater won’t be taking over coordinator duties for the Terrapins but will instead fulfill the new 10th on field coaching spot created by a new NCAA rule for the 2018 season.
Heater, a successful defensive backs coach before becoming a coordinator, is expected to work with the Terps secondary. The West Virginia native is a two-time Frank Boyles Award nominee, an honor given to the nation’s top assistant coach and was on the staff for three national championship teams.
Heater was the secondary coach for Notre Dame in 1988 when the Fighting Irish defeated WVU in the Fiesta Bowl as well as for Florida when the Gators won the title under coach Urban Myer in 2006 and 2008.
When Heater took over the Marshall job in the spring semester of 2013 the Thundering Herd were coming off a season where its defense ranked next to last in all of the FBS. In his first season the Herd made a major leap all the way to 32nd allowing just 23 points per game in route to a 10-win season and a Military Bowl Victory over Maryland.
In 2014 Heater’s defense would improve again, becoming a top 20 defense nationally allowing exactly 21 points per game. That year Marshall posted a 13-1 record and won its first ever Conference USA title.
In 2015 with much of the Herd’s offensive firepower gone and a true freshman quarterback Chase Litton replacing the record setting Rakeem Cato, Heaters defense rose to the occasion once more. Marshall would win 10 games for the third consecutive season mainly behind the strength of Heater’s stingy defense that allowed fewer than 18 points per game and was ranked 10th in the country.
During the disastrous 2016 season when the Herd went just 3-9, Heater’s defense posted its worst finish in his Marshall tenure by giving up more than 35 points per game.
But, Heater quickly turned his defense around and in 2017 the Thundering Herd boasted Conference USA’s best defense. For the third time in four seasons Heater’s unit was finished the year ranked in the top 20 nationally allowing less than 20 points per game.
Finding a replacement to match Heater’s success is likely to come from within the Marshall program according to WSAZ’s sports director Keith Morehouse.
Marshall defensive coordinator Chuck Heater leaving for Maryland and sources tell us he'll be replaced by Marshall Linebackers coach Adam Fuller
— Keith Morehouse (@KeithMorehouse) January 4, 2018
Morehouse tweeted that his sources tell him that current Thundering Herd linebacker’s coach Adam Fuller is expected to be promoted to the defensive coordinator position.
Heater brought Fuller onto the Marshall staff in 2013 and during that time the linebacker core has been one of the Herd’s strongest units. Neville Hewitt, D.J. Hunter and Evan McKelvey were all standouts under the guidance of Fuller.
In 2017 the linebackers led by Chase Hancock were once again a dominant group as the Herd’s front seven were among the best in the country.
If Fuller is indeed the heir to Heater’s position he will be taking over a defense that returns all but two starters, from a defense that ranked 17th in the FBS.
Safety C.J. Reavis and corner Rodney Allen will have to be replaced but reserve safety Brandon Drayton as well as back up corners Jaylon McClain-Sapp and Nazeeh Johnson saw plenty of game action in 2017.
Heater’s move to Maryland will reunite him with D.J. Durkin who he coached along side during his time at the University of Florida. Durkin is Maryland’s current head coach.