HUNTINGTON - For years, Owen Porter's defensive ability as a Timberwolf for Spring Valley gained him plenty of notice from college coaches.
Now, Marshall's coaching staff is also taking note of Porter now that he is a Fox within the Herd football program.
Porter, the redshirt freshman from Spring Valley, from switched positions for the spring, moving from a defensive end spot to the Fox - the hybrid defensive end/linebacker spot within the Herd defense. The move is paying off for both Porter and the Herd, as was evidenced this week in practice.
"The thing you love about Owen is that he shows up every day and he's a consistent guy that works extremely hard and it's paying off for him," Marshall defensive assistant Brad Lambert said. "That's what you talk about within your program. He's a young guy that we need to get plays out of and hopefully, he continues on an uptick with good production."
The move to the Fox position keeps Porter on the end of the Marshall defensive line, but puts him in a position where he can roll down as an end or be a fourth linebacker off the edge, which gets back to his natural instincts that made him the 2017 Howley Award winner, given to W.Va.'s top linebacker.
On Saturday, Porter showed off exactly what he can do at the position, getting down the line to tackle Marshall's Tyler King for no gain on one play before getting out on the edge to minimize plays as well.
"It felt like the first time that I've really gotten to tackle and play," Porter said. "I like the move a lot because it's like playing linebacker. It's an outside linebacker-hybrid, so I can create a lot more plays. I feel like I can drop back and see what's in front of me."
Part of Porter's strength could be seen on one play in particular in the team periods of Saturday's practice.
Porter got out in the flat and broke down in position to make a tackle. While he didn't make the initial tackle, he forced a Marshall running back inside and then recovered on the play to tackle the ball-carrier from the backside after the running back tried to dance to the outside.
It's that type of hustle and play that had the eye of Lambert and Marshall head coach Doc Holliday.
"I noticed him today and that's great to see," Holliday said. "I noticed Owen. You look for young players that start to step up and get better."
Porter's last game action came in the 2017 Class AAA Championship when he rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Martinsburg. During that game, Porter injured his elbow and was unable to return - an injury that hindered him for much of the next year.
Now fully healthy, the Herd's young defensive prospect is ready to show what he can do to help Lambert and the Herd defense.
"It felt good because it's been about a year and a half," Porter said. "Today (Saturday) wasn't a game, but it was the first time I've gotten to really go tackle and play so it felt good."
Porter said there is still plenty of work to do, but he is happy with his progress and feels better about his involvement as the team moves into its fourth week of spring practice.
"I got juked out a couple times, so I've got to tackle in the open field a bit better," Porter said. "Other than that, though, I thought it was a really good day. I was where I needed to be."