One of the state’s most inspirational recruiting stories this year involves a former UGA football player.
Since being dismissed from UGA nearly a year ago, Nick Marshall of Wilcox County High School has resurrected his career – and life – somewhere in the middle of Kansas.
The former AJC Super 11 selection switched back to his preferred position of QB, enrolled at Garden City junior college, and had a breakout season that has attracted attention from big-time college scouts.
“Nick had a great season for us, and that opened up a lot of doors for him,” Garden City coach Jeff Tatum told the AJC.
Texas is the most recent scholarship offer for Marshall, who is also considering Kansas State and Indiana, among others. Auburn has also expressed heavy interest.
What about that Texas offer? “They are really excited about recruiting him,” Tatum said. “They want to do a little more up-tempo offense and a little more zone-read. And they want a little more athletic quarterback than they’ve been playing with.”
This time last year, Marshall was finishing up a promising freshman season at UGA at another position, defensive back. However, in February, Marshall was one of three Bulldog players dismissed from the school for their involvement in a theft-related incident.
Nowadays, Marshall seems a world away from mistake. He’s playing his old position, he’s successful at doing it, and the colleges are noticing. It has been a magical transformation.
“When Nick was dismissed from Georgia, I talked to his high school coach (Mark Ledford), and he thought Nick needed to get out of the area so he could start from scratch, where nobody really knows anything about him,” Tatum said.
“He made the trek to Garden City, and he hasn’t been any trouble at all. He’s really grown up a lot as a person. With him playing quarterback, it’s put him in a situation where he’s a leader and now people are following him.
“Not a lot of people get second chances. Some of them do, and don’t make the best of it. He really has.
“Nick’s story is a great story, and you have to give him all the credit for it.”
Last spring, Marshall enrolled at Garden City without the guarantee of playing quarterback but quickly earned the spot in off-season workouts. This season, Marshall passed for 3,142 yards and 18 touchdowns in 11 games. In the team’s bowl game, Marshall came in with 41 seconds left and led the offense down the field with two clutch passes that set up the game-winning field goal.
“I think anybody that saw Nick play at Georgia knew that he was capable of some great things with the ball,” Ledford said. “He just did it out there in Kansas. He did all he could to prove himself at Garden City. They allowed him to play his game, and he was a dynamic player for them.
“Nick wanted to go to junior college and prove he could play quarterback – not to everybody else, but to himself.”
Marshall resembled the old form he had at Wilcox County, where he set the GHSA record for career touchdown passes with 103.
“I really think the whole time his heart was at quarterback,” Tatum said. “He’s such a good person that he would never go into the office and tell Coach Richt and Coach Bobo ‘If I don’t play quarterback, I’m going to leave.’ You know, Nick trusts the coaches he plays for, and they told him (defensive back) was the best situation for him. And that’s what he did, and he got to play as a true freshman at Georgia, which a lot of people don’t do.
“If he had wanted to play quarterback at Georgia, he was going to have to redshirt. If he wanted to play in the games that first year, he was going to have to play in the secondary. And Nick is so competitive that he wanted to get on the field, so he was like ‘OK, I’ll play in the secondary.’”
What about UGA and Marshall now? There hasn’t been any communication between the two sides, and the Bulldogs already have a 2013 commitment at quarterback in Camden County High School’s Brice Ramsey.
“I think (the dismissal) was a big negative at the time, and I would’ve loved to see him continue on at Georgia,” Ledford said. “But maybe in the end, things will work out well for Nick elsewhere.”
Added Tatum, “Everybody deserves a second chance, and I believe he’s learned from what happened at Georgia and used it as a positive to move forward with his life.”
Marshall will make his college decision after taking an official visit to Texas on Jan. 18. He will have to wait until the summer to enroll at a four-year college but will have three seasons to play two.
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