Skinner makes quick return to playing field

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2007

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — With his college playing career over and a degree waiting in the balance, former Marshall Thundering Herd quarterback Jimmy Skinner decided to take some time off.

The rest was a short one.

Skinner quickly got off the living room carpet in exchange for the indoor carpet of arena football as he signed on to play with the Huntington Heroes.

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“I didn’t make up my mind until two or three weeks (before practice began). I got to thinking about it and I got kind of excited,” Skinner said.

“I had three weeks after finishing up just sitting around doing nothing. I’m not used to it. I thought while I’m still in school I want something to do. This opportunity came along and I thought I better do something.”

The 6-foot-3, 198-pounder from Chillicothe is expected to be at the trigger Saturday at 7 p.m. when the Heroes host Carolina in the season opener at Big Sandy Arena just off the Sixth Street Bridge.

During this past season, Skinner played in 10 games and completed 62 of 104 passes for 878 yards. He threw for eight touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Playing indoors on a field the size of a hockey rink or half the size of a regular football field has been a new experience for Skinner.

“It’s different. There’s a lot to adjust to like the motion and rules,” Skinner said. “It’s a faster pace. It’s a lot like when I was in high school. I get the chance to air it out a lot. It’s more wide open and it fits me.”

The Heroes were 9-5 last season and made the postseason playoffs in their first season.

Many of last year’s players return and the roster includes 16 former Marshall players as well as wide receiver Shane Holsinger from South Point, the team’s leading receiver last season.

But gone is quarterback Freddie Ray who was more of a runner than a thrower. The Heroes head coach Garry McPeak elected to bring in three quarterbacks who could run the arean-style offense.

“The team goes as the quarterback goes,” Skinner said.