Somewhere in the middle of Kansas, there has been a rebirth of the football career of one of UGA’s former star recruits.
And the kid is doing it at the position that earned all the original accolades and praise – quarterback.
Nick Marshall is putting up Nintendo-like numbers this season while playing quarterback at Garden City junior college in Kansas. He has passed for 2,168 yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for 714 yards and 13 touchdowns.
It seems like an entirely different world than last season at UGA, when Marshall showed promise as a freshman by appearing in a few games at defensive back but was later dismissed for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Multiple sources told ESPN that Marshall and another player were connected to an incident involving theft of money.
Marshall then landed at Garden City, where he wasn’t necessarily supposed to play quarterback but quickly won over the coaches with his stellar practices at the position.
“I guess it was kind of a mutual deal for Nick to play quarterback,” Garden City coach Jeff Tatum told the AJC on Wednesday.
“I knew about him when he was at Wilcox County High School, and I knew what kind of quarterback he was. It surprised me when he went to Georgia as a defensive back. I was really impressed with him at quarterback after watching him in high school.”
Somewhere in Kansas, Marshall has transformed back into the “difference-maker” from his glory days in high school. Marshall still holds the state record for career touchdown passes with 103 from 2007-2010.
“I’ve seen some of his games over the Internet this year and … he looks good,” Wilcox County coach Mark Ledford told the AJC. “Some of those things he’s doing, it doesn’t surprise me at all. He did the same things for us, he’s just doing it for them now.
“Plus he’s bigger and stronger, and he looks faster. Nick with the ball in his hands, he’s a difference-maker.”
Marshall has played so well at Garden City that he is reminding some people of one of college football’s all-time greats at QB – no, not Cam Newton, although there is an Auburn connection.
“Everybody out here compares him to Michael Bishop with his throwing ability and his running ability,” Tatum said. “Michael Bishop kind of helped Kansas State turn their program around and get into the national spotlight. He’s still a pretty famous guy out here, and that’s who everybody compares him to. Matter of fact, our offensive coordinator was on the staff of Kansas State at the same time that Michael Bishop was there.”
Now the connection with Auburn and Cam Newton, who also experienced a rebirth at a junior college after originally signing with Florida out of high school — Marshall’s first scholarship offer while at Garden City came from Arkansas State coach Guz Malzahn, who was Newton’s offensive coordinator at Auburn during his Heisman Trophy-winning season.
On top of that, Auburn sent an assistant to Garden City on Monday to meet with Marshall, who also holds offers from Kansas State and Texas Tech. Marshall has also has serious interest from Auburn and Kansas, among others.
“A bunch of people have inquired about him,” Tatum said. “A lot of colleges didn’t realize he was here. The word is just now getting out. A lot of people assumed he was still at Georgia. We didn’t exactly go around telling everybody was here. But after the great year he’s having for us, people are finding out.”
What about UGA? Is there the possibility that he could return to play for the Bulldogs? “I don’t know if Georgia has contacted him or not about anything, but Georgia hasn’t contacted me on anything,” said Nick’s high school coach. Added his JC coach, “I haven’t heard from Georgia at all.”
Marshall had been torn between playing QB or DB when he signs again with a four-year school. QB has always been No. 1 in his heart, but he feels like he has a better chance of playing after college at DB. However, Marshall seems to be leaning toward his true love after the fast and furious start to this season.
“I think he will play quarterback,” Tatum said. “Here, he’s really fallen back in love with quarterback. I think he will do whatever is best for him. I think right now he feels like he is a Division I quarterback.
“Everybody knows he is a great athlete. What a lot of people have talked to him about is giving him a legit shot at quarterback. They know if he doesn’t make it at QB, he can always go to safety or corner.”
Depending on his grades from this semester at Garden City, Marshall could sign and transfer to a D1 school as early as January. Because he did not redshirt at either Georgia or junior college, Marshall will have three years to play two seasons of NCAA ball. That’s an advantage for colleges that may want Marshall to sit out the first year while learning the system.
WE’RE LESS THAN FOUR MONTHS AWAY FROM SIGNING DAY
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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