August 23, 2013

Marshall ready to make his mark

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just the thought of Ohio's top player announcing his intentions to play for Ohio State on National Signing day is enough to cause excitement for any Buckeye fan. But that's a feeling that Jalin Marshall deprived his home state -- and OSU head coach Urban Meyer -- of, when he opted to pledge his allegiances to Ohio State more than a full year before he was eligible to sign with the school.

Not that Meyer seemed to mind.

"Can you imagine Ohio State University and the state of Ohio and Buckeye Nation if he would have waited and put on a hat? That would have been a great day," Meyer said of Marshall when the 2013 National Signing Day rolled around. "We think he's certainly if not the best player in Ohio, one of them."

A quarterback during his career at Middletown High School, Marshall was ranked as a four-star athlete and the top player in Ohio in the class of 2013. Since arriving in Columbus this summer, he's been practicing as a wide receiver for the Buckeyes, a transition that has been seemingly seamless for the Under Armour High School All-American.

"It's going real good," Marshall said of his move to wideout. "I've got excellent coaches to help me get better every day, so it makes it easy for me."

According to Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, Marshall's experience as a quarterback has helped more than it's hindered him during his attempt to learn a new position. Smith said that with the Middletown, Ohio native's natural ability, it's easy to see why Middies head coach Troy Everhart wanted the ball in Marshall's hands as often as possible.

"I love quarterbacks that switch to receiver," Smith said. "Because when you recruit a quarterback in high school that has that talent to play at receiver, you're getting a guy that has some intangible qualities as the leader of his offense in high school. His high school coach said, 'This is my best player. I want him to touch it every play.'"

At 6-foot, 190 pounds, Marshall possesses not only the speed to be a deep threat in the OSU offense, but the size to take a pounding and carry the ball between the tackles. It's that type of combination that makes him a legitimate option at the H-Back/'Pivot' role in Meyer's spread system, which made a star out of the similarly built Percy Harvin at Florida.

Asked if he's been working out of the H-Back position throughout the first two weeks of fall camp, Marshall remained mum, but said that he's willing to do whatever is asked of him by the OSU coaching staff.

"I'm still learning the plays and trying to get everything down and working hard," he said. "They'll let me know what they want me to do, and I'll do anything I need to do."

While Marshall possesses the talent to be a star at any position he lines up at, he admitted that he initially wanted to play quarterback at the college level. A conversation with Meyer, however, changed his mind, which is why the former signal-caller now has no problem being on the other end of thrown passes.

"At first I (wanted to play quarterback), but I kind of got over it. I listened to the coaches and listened to what they told me," Marshall said. "(Meyer) just said I was fast and made plays with the ball. He said I could be a great help to the offense."

If Marshall can live up to those expectations, then fans -- and Meyer -- will undoubtedly forgive him for making last February a little bit less exciting for them.


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