Marshall C Patton gets role in football tragedy movie

Updated: April 6, 2006, 9:12 AM ET
Associated Press

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Playing basketball was never this much fun for Mark Patton.

With his hair greased down and his face covered by thick, black glasses, the 6-foot-11 Marshall center had a small speaking role during production for the upcoming movie "We Are Marshall."

"I've never done anything like this," Patton said after wrapping up several hours of work Tuesday. "It was a new experience. I couldn't pass this up."

The movie focuses on the aftermath of the November 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people, including 36 members of the Marshall football team.

Production on the movie began Monday. The next day, Patton and some of his former teammates were filmed on the basketball court.

The brief scene takes place months after the crash. New football coach Jack Lengyel, played by Matthew McConaughey, and assistant Red Dawson, played by Matthew Fox, are watching several basketball players.

Patton passes the ball, then sets a pick that sends two players crashing down. McConaughey likes what he sees and stops the action, walks up to Patton, and asks if he's ever played football.

Patton only knew his character's name was Dave.

"I forget my last name," he said.

Patton plans to fly to Atlanta, where additional shots will take place for scenes involving the Young Thundering Herd, which the 1971 football team was called.

The senior, who was named Marshall's Most Outstanding Player last season after averaging almost 15 points per game, initially thought he was only going to be an extra in the movie.

"As they talked to me more, it seemed like it was going to be a bigger part than I first thought," Patton said.

Speaking of parts, he didn't have much say about having his hair combed to one side for the first time in his life.

"I just showed up this morning and they took it from there, Patton said. "I had no input They didn't even cut it. I'm giving it a try. We'll see."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press