HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (KT) – Marshall University's football community lost one of its favorite sons Tuesday.
Reggie Oliver, who served as quarterback of the Young Thundering Herd in 1971, the year after the horrendous plane crash took the lives of 75 people, died Tuesday at the age of 66.
"We extend our deepest sympathies to Reggie's friends and family," a release announcing his passing said. "He was one of Marshall's true legends and will be sorely missed by the entire Thundering Herd family."
Marshall President Jerome A. Gilbert said Tuesday in a statement that his “heart is broken” at the loss of Oliver. He added that Oliver was "an integral piece of the fabric that makes up Marshall’s story.”
Last week, Oliver was hospitalized at hospital in Huntsville, Ala., after suffering a serious head injury following a fall.
The Marshall community came together at the Marshall Memorial Fountain outside of the Memorial Student Center last Friday and had a candlelight vigil for Oliver, who later was an assistant coach with the program.
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday was told of Oliver's passing after Tuesday’s practice.
"It's a shame," he said. "He was a great guy, a great Son of Marshall. He did so much for our program in so many ways."
The vigil on Friday was at the same fountain that Oliver delivered a powerful speech to Marshall patrons back on April 28. "People said not to go to Marshall," Oliver recalled. "They said, 'They'll make a wide receiver out of you.'"
Oliver not only became a quarterback for the Young Thundering Herd, he guided Marshall to one of the biggest wins in program history.
On Sept. 25, 1971, Oliver connected with freshman fullback Terry Gardner on a play called "213 Bootleg Screen" for a 13-yard touchdown on the game's final play as Marshall upset Xavier, 15-13, in front of 13,000 fans at Fairfield Stadium in Huntington.
It was the first home game for the Herd since the fatal Marshall plane crash on Nov. 14, 1970 that killed 75 people: 37 football players along with five coaches, two athletic trainers, the athletic director, 25 boosters, and a crew of five.