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Soft-spoken Hancock lets his actions speak

April 1, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — In speaking with Marshall senior Chase Hancock, one may not think that he is a linebacker.

The soft-spoken Beckley native is a ‘yes sir, no sir’ guy who possesses a mild personality and has a hushed humility about him.

And, as Hancock admitted, there is another aspect that doesn’t exactly scream “linebacker” either.

“Body size, too,” Hancock said, almost shrugging off the notion as he said it. “I’ve been told a lot that I don’t look like a linebacker, so people are surprised by that. Of course, it’s about the size of the heart in the dog, not the size of the dog. Obviously, size helps, but I’ve got heart and that’s all that matters.”

The 6-foot-2, 221-pounder has impressed Marshall’s coaching staff since coming to Huntington as an invited walk-on out of Woodrow Wilson High School five years ago. Hancock has gone from an unheralded instate product to a captain and leader of one of Conference USA’s top defenses.

While he may be quiet in nature, once Hancock hits the field, something inside of him flips. Internally, there is a fire about the Herd’s most veteran linebacker that is fueled by motivation from doubters — those aforementioned individuals who say he doesn’t look or act the part. It is nothing new for Hancock because, at each level of his football career, he has been doubted.

Hancock has silenced those critics through his work on and off the field — an aspect that Marshall defensive coordinator Adam Fuller says makes him a special player.

“Since Chase’s first day on campus, he’s always had extremely high expectations for himself,” Fuller said. “That’s not just in football — school, life, other people, people around him, the situation he’s in.

“As Chase has matured, he’s learned to deal with things not being perfect at times. Overall, it’s made him more successful. He’s got such a high standard for himself and he won’t accept failure. He’s really driven, and he’s not really an outspoken person, but his actions speak so loud by the way he operates.”

Hancock is coming off a year in which he finished second in Conference USA in tackles with 128 in 13 games while adding seven pass breakups, two sacks and two fumble recoveries.

And he did all that while leading Marshall’s defense to being one of Conference USA’s top units, which led a turnaround from three wins in 2016 to eight in 2017, yet, at the end of the year, Hancock was only named as a Conference USA Second Team selection — a fact that made Marshall head coach Doc Holliday bristle when discussing his senior leader.

“I think he’s the best linebacker in the league,” Holliday said. “He should’ve been All-Conference (First Team) a year ago and he wasn’t, but he’s a tremendous player, tremendous leader. He just does everything right.”

Hancock isn’t focused on the individual awards; instead, he’s seeking improvement.

When speaking about 2017, Hancock would not discuss the Conference USA snub, and he did not want to talk about the 128 tackles or seven pass breakups. There was something else on his mind when thinking of last season.

“I feel like I’ve got to do better,” Hancock said. “There were times where I dropped picks. Some of those pass breakups should have been interceptions.”

That isn’t just lip service, as was seen on Saturday.

Following practice, team members dispersed around 12:30 p.m. to start their Easter weekend. However, Hancock and fellow fifth-year senior linebacker Frankie Hernandez spent 45 minutes alone on the field working on footwork and technique.

It’s all part of Hancock’s drive to be at the top of his game each day out.

“I just have to keep going,” Hancock said. “The sky is the limit and this is my last year, so I’ve got to give it my all. I’m going to always give my all anyway, but it’s that much more important that I leave here playing my best.”