Nick Marshall, coach explain choice of Georgia over Georgia Tech

The recruiting battle between Georgia and Georgia Tech for Wilcox County star Nick Marshall has been intense and is not likely to end with his recent commitment to the Bulldogs. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The recruiting battle between Georgia and Georgia Tech for Wilcox County star Nick Marshall has been intense and is not likely to end with his recent commitment to the Bulldogs. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Nick Marshall’s switch from Georgia Tech to Georgia had more to do with the elite prospect’s lifelong love of UGA than anything anybody did or said.

That’s the word from both Marshall, who starred at quarterback on Wilcox County’s 2009 Class A state championship team, and his high school coach, Mark Ledford. Both individuals have caught flak and heard accusations fly after Marshall went from being a heavy lean toward the Yellow Jackets to a Georgia commitment this past week.

The bottom line, Marshall told me, is he grew up wanting to be a Bulldog. He wasn’t sure if that was going to be possible after Georgia accepted a pledge from national quarterback recruit Christian LeMay of Matthews, N.C. When the Bulldogs came back with a personal offer from coach Mark Richt to play defensive back in football and while also playing basketball for coach Mark Fox, Marshall said he knew in his heart that is what he wanted to do.

“I’ve been a Georgia fan since I was about 6 or 7 years old,” said Marshall, who also holds numerous scholarship offers as a guard in basketball. “I always wanted to play for Georgia. Now I know I can.”

That represented an about-face from Marshall’s stance of the last several weeks.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete had come just short of committing to Yellow Jackets — some have reported he was a “silent commitment,” though both Marshall and his coach deny it — who have recruited him hard from the outset. Marshall developed a very close relationship with his Tech recruiting coach, assistant Charles Kelly, and head coach Paul Johnson, especially in the weeks following LeMay’s April 30th decision.

“He had a really close relationship to Georgia Tech the last month or so,” Ledford said. “So [Marshall's commitment to Georgia] kind of came out of the blue.”

In the midst of a non-contact period in recruiting, Ledford has bore the brunt of the backlash.

“I was never in this deal,” Ledford said. “It was something Nick had to make up his mind about and that’s what he did. . . .  People may think there’s some shady dealings going on but there’s not. It was just that Georgia offered him as a defensive back and that reopened things for them.”

Ledford said Marshall’s decision meshes with what the prospect told him months ago when the spring evaluation period began.

“Sometime in April, Nick told me he wanted to play basketball,” Ledford said. “I asked him, ‘where do you want to play basketball?’ He said Georgia. I said, ‘if you played football, where would you want to play at?’ He said Georgia.

“A couple weeks later is when Christian LeMay committed to Georgia and that put things on hold, especially after Coach Richt came out and said they were going to sign only one quarterback. After that he wasn’t really being recruited by Georgia anymore. He developed a great relationship with Coach Kelly and Georgia Tech and so did I. They were very professional and very straightforward with him. It wasn’t long after that he expressed to Georgia Tech he may be wanting to go there.”

Asked if Marshall actually gave the Jackets a silent commitment, as has been reported elsewhere, Ledford said: “I don’t know if you’d call it a silent commitment. I’m not sure where that term came from. I’ll just say he was very close to committing to Georgia Tech.”

Meanwhile, Georgia was reassessing its recruitment of Marshall. Two weeks ago, Richt called Ledford to say the Bulldogs wanted to re-offer him as a defensive back. Richt added the pitch that they felt it would be easier for Marshall to compete as a dual-sport athlete playing in the secondary in football rather than quarterback.

“About that time we were having 7-on-7 drills and Nick was having a lot of fun playing defensive back,” Ledford said. “He told me he could see himself playing defensive back in college. A lot of people don’t realize he had just as big an impact for us playing cornerback as he did quarterback. He had five interceptions in the playoffs. He returned one of them 95 yards for a touchdown to help us win a game. He’s a great DB.”

Said Marshall: “I like playing quarterback but I love playing DB.  Sometimes I think I’d rather get an interception than throw a TD pass.”

Just as crucial to Marshall’s final decision was being able to play basketball for the Bulldogs. He said he has bonded with Fox and many of the Georgia players and is excited about the current direction of the program.

“He’s a cool guy,” Marshall said of Fox. “Me and him really get along well. I’m excited about the chance to play for him.”

Marshall and his mother, Shalena Mahogoney, made the call to Richt to commit to the Bulldogs last Tuesday night. Ledford was left to call the Yellow Jackets and tell them the news.

“Having to call them to explain what was going on was probably one of the toughest calls I had to make in my life,” Ledford said.

As for making a decision now, in early summer with months to go until national signing day, Marshall said it was important to get the process over with. He said it has become a major distraction and was weighing on him daily.

“It’s been wild. I’ve been getting calls about it every day,” he said. “I needed to get it behind me so I can concentrate on my academics and getting ready for the season.”

Said Ledford of his star player’s decision: “It’s what Nick Marshall feels in his heart.”

But the truth is this battle is probably far from over.

“It’s been a tough process for Nick and it will probably continue to be,” Ledford said.

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  • Later this afternoon, check back for an update on Hillgrove High star Jabari Hunt-Days, who talks about his commitment to Georgia Tech on Saturday.

180 comments Add your comment

DOWG

June 14th, 2010
11:08 am

First, he is UGA bound come next year

uga student

June 14th, 2010
11:09 am

sounds like its over

Outside Observer

June 14th, 2010
11:15 am

I respect a kid who is willing to give up the spotlight as quarterback and make a transition to a new position just so he can go to the school of his dreams. I wish he would have come to the flats and play QB, but I look forward to seeing him the next few years and wish him the best.

SCfalconfan

June 14th, 2010
11:18 am

fix your opening sentence.

Hmmmm...

June 14th, 2010
11:18 am

not gonna say it.

1eyedJack

June 14th, 2010
11:18 am

Wilcox County is Bulldog country….also kind of close to God’s country.

robodawg

June 14th, 2010
11:20 am

Corrections: First sentence should say “from Georgia Tech to Georgia.” But is it really a switch if he never committed?!

Glad he’s a Bulldog!

skeetland

June 14th, 2010
11:22 am

huh?
Nick Marshall’s switch from Georgia to Georgia Tech had more to do with the elite prospect’s lifelong love of UGA than anything anybody did or said.

Dawgs97

June 14th, 2010
11:24 am

Chip simply made a mistake. But Chip, you need to fix that opening sentence. You may actually give the nerds some hope as they pull their heads up from their D&D games with mom.

Billy O

June 14th, 2010
11:27 am

Playing DB is not new to him….does anyone know how long he’s been playing DB. I bet Tech shows some class and backs off recruiting him hard….fully expect them to “Stay in Touch”.

Paul in RDU

June 14th, 2010
11:28 am

It sounds to me that the kid really wants to play FB and Bball at UGA – and doesn’t care what position it is on the field. As a QB he would be down the depth chart behind LeMay but as a DB he has a better chance at playing. Sounds like a smart decision to me – good luck to him.

Confused

June 14th, 2010
11:31 am

Where do you get the sense that its far from over? At least explain if you’re going to make a statement like that.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

June 14th, 2010
11:33 am

If he wants to be a bulldog, he’ll be a bulldog. Sounds like he made up his mind and wants the best opportunity to play both sports. gt can still pursue other QBs or Athletes—move on.

Chip Towers

June 14th, 2010
11:35 am

Sorry for butchering that opening ‘graph. It’s fixed now. Still removing the sand and greasing the wheels after vacation!

Halberstram

June 14th, 2010
11:36 am

Wish he would have called the Tech coaches himself, I understand it’s a really difficult thing to do but the Tech coaches deserved it for all the time spent talking with him.

Dan

June 14th, 2010
11:37 am

So I’m guessing now that he’s gonna go to UGA he’s going to have SEC Speed. However, had he gone to GT, he would not have been quite so fast? I’ll bet he can run a 3.6 40.

gdawginkalamazoo

June 14th, 2010
11:39 am

Chip, why is this not over? Sounds like the kid made his choice and will stick to it. Great offer from Richt and Fox. Plus if things go sideways with the QB situation again looks like he could step in and help out if needed. 6-2 DB we need that.

BigUGA

June 14th, 2010
11:40 am

I doubt Johnson would take him back. What was that Auburn commits name that wavered on the Jackets? Seems like Tech gives you one chance and then moves on. That is another reason that school is simply not a good fit for the SEC. In the SEC we believe cutt throat recruiting is almost as important as winning a football game!

Will

June 14th, 2010
11:40 am

Mr. Marshall is tired of playing in a high school offense. Why would you sign up to play 4 more years in a duplicate system in front of 40,000 people. Also, the NFL will NEVER draft a qb from Tech in that offense……NEVER! Some people like to move on to bigger and better things…..Like UGA.

BigTimeTECHFan

June 14th, 2010
11:42 am

Sounds simple and very logical from Mashall:
1. Wants to go to UGA, his dream
2. UGA looking at him as QB
3. LeMay puts UGA as No. 1 (not committed). Mashall thinks he’s lost chance to play for UGA so his next option is Tech.
4. UGA offer comes as DB, his dream to play for UGA alive so he takes it.

No issues from me, happens to 90% of recuits.

Dan

June 14th, 2010
11:43 am

It was Dontae Aycock, Big UGA. But the situations are not parallel. In that case, Aycock had committed to Tech and then wanted to take an official visit to Auburn. Johnson – as he does with every commit – told him that once he committed to Tech, he was not to flirt with other schools. Aycock went on the visit and Johnson pulled the offer.

In this case, Marshall never committed to Tech, which means that he’s still fair game for Johnson if he feels it’s an effective use of his limited time and resources.

Bulldog59

June 14th, 2010
11:43 am

Sounds as clear and committed as you can get. He’s wanted to be a Dawg his whole life, he likes CMR and Coach Fox, done deal. Time for GT to move on, there are loads of other fine athletes that will have GT high on their list.

Dan

June 14th, 2010
11:43 am

Will, that high school offense is averaging 35 a game against your vaunted SEC defense with all its SEC speed. I’d keep my mouth shut about the offense if I were you.

TC Rebels

June 14th, 2010
11:44 am

Wilcox better enjoy this 2010 season, because after it, Turner’s reign over Wilcox will resume. Go Rebels.

Cleveland, OH jacket

June 14th, 2010
11:45 am

Will….GT was offering him as a DB when Nick said he wanted to play bball as well. Congrats to the kid for following his dream, though.

Dan

June 14th, 2010
11:47 am

Agreed, Bulldog59. Happy the kid will get to realize his dream. I wish it was with Tech, but I wish him the best in Athens – at least until the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

nola dawg fan

June 14th, 2010
11:48 am

Chip – you probably didn’t write the headline, but the line, “likely not over” does not fit with your report. You provide great stuff above, but it certainly makes it seem like Nick is locked on UGA. Well, as locked as any prospect is before signing day (early signing period anyone?).

Headline seems misleading… just sayin’

Jackets!

June 14th, 2010
11:48 am

What is this MTV? Quit writing articles like this AJC! I dont care about teen drama or he/she said stuff…Nick Marshall can go be the next Champ Bailey or he can be the next big bust. Tech wanted him, but if he wants to go play for the LAST PLACE basketball team in Athens…go right ahead. Good luck to you Nick.

theTruth

June 14th, 2010
11:49 am

CHIP, glad you had a good vacation, but like the ones above, I don’t get the (it’s not over) tone either. I’m sure GT and other schools will continue to call like all schools do but this one sounds more solid than most commitments we read/hear about. Your insight?

Do you know something we don’t know?

theTruth

June 14th, 2010
11:51 am

Uh JACKETS, that last place team beat you last year.

Jus sayin’

Will

June 14th, 2010
11:55 am

Dan,

That was during the Sweet WIllie years. There will be no more 35 point games against Grantham & co. You will be back to scoring 10 or 14 against us and no more!

Jackets!

June 14th, 2010
11:56 am

Did I mention that UGA finished in LAST PLACE last year in SEC basketball? It seems like the AJC, and others, think they won they National Title last year in basketball with the way they write these pro UGA articles about the program fox is building. I dont understand all the credit he gets…The only thing they did this season was beat a young and poorly coached Tech team before we found our offense and they Leslie dunked on UK. Tech lost to the national champion in our conference tourney(almost won the game in the last minutes), made a second round NCAA tourney appearance, and will likely produce another top draft pick and possibly two in the first round. Nick if your truly interested in basketball…why UGA? You know Tech is the only basketball program in this state…look at the NBA rosters and tell me otherwise.

4tix4dogs4cokes

June 14th, 2010
11:57 am

Dan — Just as he will develop SEC speed, I suspect he will also have no academic credentials and be thug. Right? Works both ways slick, so get off of your high horse.

Dan

June 14th, 2010
11:57 am

I think I’ll take my chances, Will. What makes you think Grantham will be so different than Martinez?

dap01

June 14th, 2010
11:59 am

Why is it not over? He is a fan of UGA and not is apart of UGA. He is an elite 2 sport athlete, what is still in question?

He will play in front of over 500,000 more fans in the stadium each year at UGA than Tech.

The only people to still see it as an issue is the people at Tech who can not see the obvious.

Jacket Backer

June 14th, 2010
11:59 am

i don’t like recruiting these two sports guys…look at what happend to Tech with jake skole….sounds to me like this kid prefers basketball…..they get torn between two sports and typically don’t achieve there potential in either one….hope we just move on from this kid…plenty of other recruits out there…

Go Jackets!!

N.GA.DAWG

June 14th, 2010
11:59 am

The last place team that beat tech.lol 30-24 and still running!! I bet we dont finish last in 10-11.

Dawg House

June 14th, 2010
12:00 pm

This is what we need in Athens!!! Good athletes who TRULY want to be there!!

The ship is getting righted at UGA.

Keep on hating, haters. We will be busy supporting our beloved Dawgs!!

Dan

June 14th, 2010
12:04 pm

I never brought up his – or any other kid’s – academic credentials or off-the-field behavior. Outside of the lunatic fringe, I don’t think most Tech fans call UGA players thugs unless their behavior suggests they are. Now it’s your turn to get off your high horse you dolt.

Glory Glory

June 14th, 2010
12:06 pm

Man….. If only “Jackets!” tears cured cancer….

greg

June 14th, 2010
12:08 pm

This is another in a long line of misleading AJC blog headlines. It is done with the express purpose of getting hits on a sinking papers web site. If the headline would have been “NM picks his dream school” it wouldn’t have gotten nearly as many hits. That, however, is what the headline should have been. No where in the article was anything stated that he was anything but happy with his choice. Chip I appreciate what you do, and it was a good article, but attempting to make it something it’s not is dishonest…

Bulldog59

June 14th, 2010
12:10 pm

Nola, agreed, the headline doesn’t seem to fit the story, seems “over” on this one.

An aside, I just heard Jarvis Jones is in Athens today, …..could announce in the near future.

4tix4dogs4cokes

June 14th, 2010
12:11 pm

Right, Tech fans never attempt to down grade academics, or call UGA players thugs. Nope, never. Only the lunatic fringe. Got it.

Yet, in your world, all UGA fans talk about high school offenses and SEC speed. Ironically, neither of which were brought up on this thread until you introduced them. We get it, you are insecure, but stop trying to project your insecurities onto the rest of world.

dawgfan

June 14th, 2010
12:13 pm

I love it when the AJCers make complete boneheads of themselves and then go MIA when called out on it.

What pot stirring tabloid garbage. I hear the National Enquirer (sp?) has a job opening Chip. Maybe you should apply.

GTMike

June 14th, 2010
12:17 pm

As a Tech fan it sounds like it’s over to me. I don’t really think that Johnson is gonna waste any more time with this kid. They’ve got more important things to be worrying about.

While it would have been really cool to grab Marshall, losing him is no biggie since we have plenty of depth at DB.

Hunker Down

June 14th, 2010
12:17 pm

Can’t wait to see Nick playing between the hedges. Agree, Fox is moving the Dawgs in the right direction and will win an Sec Championship in time. Always follow your heart and home where you know you belong. If Nick tells GT the recruiting porocess is over then life can get back to normal for hom and as he says concentrate on school and his senior season. good luck and stay healthy! Go Dawgs!

The real truth

June 14th, 2010
12:18 pm

Was hoping Nick would go the GT, but congrats to UGA. I think GT is in good shape at QB and DB in the future, was really wanting Nick for PG. In my bachelor days in Atlanta, wheneven I got turned down, I immediately went to the next one without any regrets. GT needs to do the same. There’s plenty of fish in the sea. There is probably 5 other DBs in Georgia with as much as a 49% chance of being as good, if not better, than Nick.

Dan

June 14th, 2010
12:19 pm

I don’t have to talk about how great I am or try living vicariously through an 18 year old. And I suppose you have no sense of humor either. Who’s the insecure one among us? Move along, moron.

And the high school offense comment did come up – as it inevitably does – from Will at 11:40. I strongly suggest you get your facts in order, son.

gdawginkalamazoo

June 14th, 2010
12:21 pm

Jackets! You forgot to mention that the last place team beat your team. We don’t really care what you are going to do. UGA has two top NBA prospects that chose to come back to UGA and play another year. We have a new coach who is making progress in what was a disgrace of a BBall program. UGA is on the way up. Tech is wondering how to get rid of its coach and his contract. And you have to think about why he chose UGA?

Clint

June 14th, 2010
12:23 pm

From all his quotes, it sounds like it’s over. Marshall will be in Athens. Heck, with LeMay in trouble he might get a shot at QB.