Marcus Marshall knows his football history. Marshall wore No. 21 at Millbrook High in Raleigh, N.C., but he has been assigned No. 34 as a Georgia Tech freshman B-back.
“Thirty-four’s actually a classic running back number,” Marshall said. “I’ve embraced it and I’m looking forward to wearing it now.”
Two of the greatest NFL running backs of all-time, Walter Payton and Earl Campbell, became legends in the number. Other greats include Bo Jackson, Thurman Thomas and Herschel Walker.
“It’s a really good number,” Marshall said. “I’m excited I got that number.”
It is Marshall’s goal now to make his own history as the Jackets’ No. 34, worn last by B-back Matt Connors.
As has been documented often, Marshall will have a chance right away. With C.J. Leggett out for the season with a torn ACL and Quaide Weimerskirch out through September after foot surgery to repair an injury sustained in spring practice, there is opportunity. Marcus Allen goes into the preseason as the No. 1, with graduate transfer Patrick Skov behind him, followed by Marshall and fellow incoming freshman Mikell-Lands Davis.
On his recruiting video, Marshall shows balance, vision and breakaway speed. Playing out of a one-back shotgun set, he set school records with 2,198 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns in his senior season. His video is a string of long-distance touchdown runs. He led Millbrook to the third round of the state playoffs in the largest classification, scoring all 12 of his team's touchdowns in the postseason.
“I just want to be a part of (the team’s success) and help the team win as best I can,” Marshall said. Also, “I’d like to break any freshman rushing records. That’s just personal goals. I just want to get in and help the team win.”
Marshall’s transition to Tech was different than most. Marshall graduated in December, thinking that he would enroll early wherever he chose to attend college. However, Tech entered the picture late in the process, causing him to reevaluate. Marshall committed to Tech in late December, which made enrolling in January difficult. As a result, he decided to stay at home. During the interim, Marshall took classes at nearby N.C. State and worked out on his own.
“I really didn’t want to be sitting around and not doing anything academically,” he said.
Marshall took a psychology class and a Pilates class. He got a B plus in psychology and liked the Pilates class, also.
“I feel like it gave me some good stretches to work on and some good habits as far as flexibility goes,” he said.
Marshall arrives at Tech with an unusual perspective on the Tech-Georgia rivalry. His older brother Keith is a running back at Georgia. He attended the past two Tech-Georgia games in support of his brother and the Bulldogs.
“I’m definitely talking junk a lot,” Marcus said. “We got the ‘W’ last year. He’s just going to have to deal with that until November. Hopefully we’ll keep those bragging rights.”
1. Marshall graduated with a GPA that he says was “4.27 or 4.3.” He said he earned two or three grades below an A.
2. Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook was involved in Marshall’s brief recruitment, which heated up quickly at the end of the year. “He came to see me my junior year,” Marshall said. “I was playing slot, I didn’t have a good game and I didn’t really have much contact with him again until after my senior year late December.”
3. Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and James Madison were also among Marshall’s final choices, but Tech’s business school, the city of Atlanta, the proximity to Athens and his relationship with coaches helped win him over.
“I liked the coaches a lot,” he said. “I felt really at home when I was on my visit.”
4. Marshall knows former Tech quarterback Vad Lee, who transferred to James Madison (where both his parents attended and his father played football) in Jan. 2014. Lee is also from the Raleigh-Durham area.
“He’s a great guy,” Marshall said. “He’s a really good leader. He seemed like an all-around humble guy, a great person to be around.”
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