Q&A: UGA freshman TB Keith Marshall says ‘competition is a good thing’

Georgia coach Mark Richt and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner introduce the Bulldogs' early enrolles (L-R) Keith Marshall, Faton Bauta and Mark Beard. (AP photo)

Georgia coach Mark Richt and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner introduce the Bulldogs' early enrolles (L-R) Keith Marshall, Faton Bauta and Mark Beard. (AP photo)

Q&A WITH KEITH MARSHALL

Lost in all the craziness of last week’s national signing day drama and shocking player dismissals was the introduction of Georgia’s three early enrollees. Quarterback Faton Bauta, offensive lineman Mark Beard and tailback Keith Marshall had been shielded from interviews by UGA since arriving in Athens to begin spring semester in early January. But the three players were made available on the afternoon of national signing day. I’ll be sharing a little about each of them in a story that will run in Tuesday’s printed edition. In the meantime, I don’t think there is any question that Marshall, the five-star tailback from Raleigh, N.C. , is one of the most anticipated addition of the early enrollees and really of the entire 2012 class. So here’s some of what I heard from him this past Wednesday.

Q: What are some of the advantages of early enrollment?

A: “I get to acclimate to college life before the season and physically I can get myself ready to compete. . . . I’ve never had to block that much so I’m glad I got here early so I can learn that. I’ve already learned the basic schemes, but that’s different than actually going out there and doing it live. It’s something I’ll have to work on for sure.”

Q: Obviously fellow North Carolina tailback Todd Gurley signed with the Bulldogs. What’s your thoughts on that?

A: “I think he’s a great player. He’s going to make me better and hopefully I can make him better. Hopefully we’ll feed off each other and the other running backs, too. We have plenty of good running backs here. We can all make each other better. It’s like Coach Richt says, you have to have more than one good running back.”

Q: It’s unusual for two running back prospects as highly touted as you two to sign at the same school. What kind of relationship do you have with him and what was the thinking behind going to the same school?

A: “Me and Todd are both from North Carolina. I met him through track, actually. But through recruiting I got to know him real well. He’s probably one of the closest people I met during recruiting. Playing with him is going to be great. He’s somebody I know and we’re from the same city and all that. We’re going to help each other get better.”

Q: Did Isaiah Crowell send you a bouquet of flowers or an email message or anything upon the news of your plans to join the team?

A: “No, no. I talked to him the day before I committed just to find out what he thought about everything. He was supportive.”

Q: With you and Gurley and Crowell and all the other backs Georgia has coming back, tailback is suddenly a pretty crowded position. Does that concern you?

A: “I’m not worried about competition. People say ‘competition’ like it’s a bad thing. Competition is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing.”

Q: You and offensive tackle John Theus are the only 5-star prospects in this class. Was his commitment an incentive to join the Bulldogs?

A: “I’m excited about running behind him. We went through recruiting together. We were looking at some of the same schools, so he didn’t really have to recruit me that much. He knew this was one of my main schools. I’m looking forward to playing with him.”

Q: You’re from the middle of ACC country. Were you lured by the opportunity to play SEC football?

A: “It wasn’t so much the SEC. I’ve just liked Georgia since I was younger. Coach [Mark] Richt, of course I wanted to play for him. And I’ve always liked Knowshon Moreno, since I was in like middle school. Whenever it was he played against Hawaii (January 2008) in that game, ever since then I wanted to come here.”

Q: How aware are you of the tailback tradition at UGA?

A: “I know a lot about the history of running backs, not just here, but everywhere. Obviously there’s Herschel, but I can name a lot of the running backs that went here. I have the Herschel documentary in my room.”

Q: You have achieved an almost a mythical status because of the stories of your academic and athletic achievements. Can you validate the legend of possessing the rare combination of a grade-point average that exceeds your 40-yard-dash time?

A: “The fastest I’ve ever timed in the 40 was a 4.22 at my school; I ran a 4.25 at a college camp. My GPA I graduated with was a 4.31, somewhere right in there.”

Q: Tell me about the 40-yard dash challenge between you and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell in which you beat him two of three times. How’d that come about?

A: “Actually it was his idea. I’ve seen people say I challenged him; it wasn’t anything like that. We were working out and running routes or whatever and we got to talking about who was faster, so we went outside and raced. . . . All the guys thought he was going to win, so it was kind of a cool feeling. My teammates liked it but it wasn’t that big of a deal to me.”

Q: You were a champion sprinter in high school. Do you plan to run track while at Georgia?

A: “Maybe in the future. Not this year. I want to get established in football first.”

– Chip Towers

202 comments Add your comment

Fatman McFatterstein

February 6th, 2012
12:38 pm

First? Woo Hoo!

Skitty Fritty

February 6th, 2012
12:38 pm

Skitty Fritty

February 6th, 2012
12:39 pm

Congrats Fatman!

Long time Fan

February 6th, 2012
12:40 pm

1st?? This kid is going to be great…I can’t wait

Long time Fan

February 6th, 2012
12:40 pm

dang no I’m not

Pubert149

February 6th, 2012
12:41 pm

So cool, First

BillS

February 6th, 2012
12:42 pm

Nice story, Chip. Kids sounds as if he has his head screwed on right. I wish him well — UGA can use an asset like that in the backfield. May help out IC a bit, too.

Pubert149

February 6th, 2012
12:42 pm

ah, man. Spent too much time reading. Knew it was too good to be true!

Choke

February 6th, 2012
12:43 pm

It’s exciting that he seems to understand the importance of good blocking in the backfield. Yes, UGA has picked up a good one. From all appearances, it appears that Keith Marshall is doing everything the correct (Georgia) way.

Delbert D.

February 6th, 2012
12:44 pm

Marshall is going to be a really good running back.

RanDawg

February 6th, 2012
12:44 pm

-Wow,what a refreshing attitude for someone just beginning his college career! It looks like he has that rare combination of brains,athletic ability,and can speak well also.’Gotta admire that!

everyday

February 6th, 2012
12:46 pm

Matthew

February 6th, 2012
12:48 pm

I just love to read about a young man that takes pride in his academics as well as his athletics. It has been a while since we have had an athlete like this. Seems to me that they are starting to get the “Right” kids instead of just athletes.

Go Dawgs!

February 6th, 2012
12:49 pm

Let’s get this tradition of saying “Go Dawgs!” instead of “first” going.

Go Dawgs!

Matthew

February 6th, 2012
12:50 pm

Enter your comments here

'94 UGA Alumnus

February 6th, 2012
12:52 pm

Keith Marshall is a class act and I’m proud to have him on my team. I’m really hoping he and Richard Samuel can be a positive influence for Crowell who I think has a world of talent and just needs to mature.

Coach Bobo's Playbook

February 6th, 2012
12:54 pm

It’s great to have some speed in the backfield. Maybe it’s time to rediscover the toss sweep, among other outside running plays!! Imagine sending Marshall deep, out of the backfield, with some linebacker trying to cover him downfield. Please, Coach Bobo, think about it!! …GO DAWGS!!!

Supes

February 6th, 2012
12:55 pm

Chip, good job on this Keith Marshall Q/A…found the young man’s answers to be enlightening…in the same way that all great Dawgs have spoken in the past. Looking forward to seeing what Keith and Todd and the rest of this recruiting class can contribute to the team. Very glad he’s a Dawg, great job by our recruiting staff on looking at the complete package (student athlete and good all around human being).

SteveW

February 6th, 2012
1:05 pm

I think with the dismissal of Marshall and Sanders, we may have to move Samuels to Safety – he’s got the speed to do it, and Carlton Thomas to Corner. Maybe Brandon Harton to Corner as well. Then we go with Boo, Crowell, Marshall, and Gurley as the TB’s. Leave Brandon Harton in there also if your concerned about depth.

Randall "Pink" Floyd

February 6th, 2012
1:06 pm

Wish we had a team full of Keith Marshalls. This will only make Crowell better, just watch.

BG

February 6th, 2012
1:06 pm

Great young man. GO DAWGS!!

tenn.DAWG

February 6th, 2012
1:06 pm

This young man has it goin on.Wise beyond his years.

T Bag BAMA

February 6th, 2012
1:07 pm

Randall "Pink" Floyd

February 6th, 2012
1:07 pm

SteveW, Gurley will be moved to safety long before Samuel will.

anon1

February 6th, 2012
1:08 pm

This kid will make fans forget Crowell. Just make sure he doesn’t room with or hang out with IC.

GREYSHIRT BAMA

February 6th, 2012
1:11 pm

Saban has not morals

59bulldawg

February 6th, 2012
1:12 pm

Ditto RanDawg! Refreshing indeed!

7576DAWG

February 6th, 2012
1:15 pm

Even though Keith’s maturity level is about as good as it get’s for a Freshman he will not do everything perfect and I’m sure he will be the first to admit it. After having 3 kid’s go though it and seeing how they progressed since their first year in college it is refreshing to read about a recruit that has his conceit level in check , expectation’s for himself under control , and team member mindset where it should be.
Now, this is a coaches dream recruit. I hope some of the recruit’s last year will now understand how far they are from that maturity level.
Marshall understand’s that he has 3 short year’s to get his skill’s physically and mentally ready for Pro ball. Physically is obvious but he need’s to mentally be able to handle adult demand’s and be able to handle his own finances.

BMDPD

February 6th, 2012
1:19 pm

Wow, I hope ya’ll are just as supportive of him if he flops. Thoughts?

bigcalidawg

February 6th, 2012
1:22 pm

Measured, reserved, calculated responses………..not indicative of a D-1 athlete.

I hope the kid catches the ball well from the backfield and learns to block this season.

Also, …….it kinda jumped out actually…….was that he spoke with IC day before signing day and he was “supportive”……………………..I really feel that’s a pregnant statement…….and would love to hear the actual conversation.

Go Dawgs!

Greyshirt Nick

February 6th, 2012
1:23 pm

Dylan

February 6th, 2012
1:24 pm

I absolutely cannot wait to see him on the field. I don’t want to get my hopes up like last year (Crowell), but this guy really seems like a special athlete. 208 days left!

Go Dawgs!

bigcalidawg

February 6th, 2012
1:26 pm


Randall “Pink” Floyd

February 6th, 2012
1:06 pm

Wish we had a team full of Keith Marshalls. This will only make Crowell better, just watch.”

Yeah Pink……what if IC made the same leap in effort Kwame did………..

JB

February 6th, 2012
1:27 pm

He’ll get his chances, because Bobo will keep calling running plays, even if they are not working, especially in the second half…..And if we have from 1 to 100 point lead, Bobo likes to kill the clock by running the ball. You will get your chance to move the chains…..and even on 3 and outs, with a small lead, we will continue to pound the rock, working or not, when we get the ball back. Moving the ball in the second half and building on a lead is overrated.

Wookie

February 6th, 2012
1:27 pm

Whole bunch goes into becoming an elite running back.

–>Injury free
–>Stay out of legal trouble
–>Strong academics

That’s the base.

–>Pass Protect
–>Don’t fumble

That’s Level 2.

–>Produce (average @5 yards per carry)

Level 3

–>Yards after contact

Level 4

–>Play your best at right time & right games (3rd downs, 4th quarter, red zone, conference opponents, ranked opponents)

Level 5

Wookie

February 6th, 2012
1:30 pm

I don’t think Crowell’s going to let these young guns see the field.

Look out for Isiah Crowell, he’s coming.

JB

February 6th, 2012
1:33 pm

Wookie, you left out enjoying contact….dishing it out rather than receiving it……..Getting stronger as the game goes on………and making the head coach cge his policy of raising your hand and coming out of the game on your own…..because he can’t get you out of the game……NOW that would be different in Athens.

BMDPD

February 6th, 2012
1:35 pm

Yep, and… if and when he fumbles and it costs us the game, then CMR will be at fault because he cannot evaluate talent. We will see. He is already better than IC1 or HW34, and he hasn’t hit the field.

Dawg Haus

February 6th, 2012
1:38 pm

Marshall sounds like he’s got a good head on his shoulders. Looking forward to seeing how he and Gurley impact the 2012 Dawgs.

BMDPD

February 6th, 2012
1:40 pm

You fair weather SOBs will be slamming him in no time.

1eyedJack

February 6th, 2012
1:41 pm

Well then, let’s strap ‘em on and get after it.

piermontdawgny

February 6th, 2012
1:42 pm

Nice to hear a young man who has joined the Dawgs excells both in athletics and academics…

“I get to acclimate to college life and physically I can get myself ready to compete…”

Harold Waters

February 6th, 2012
1:45 pm

I’m already a big Keith Marshall fan. He’s got his head on straight and I’ve already seen he and his friends at our church pretty much every week since he arrived on campus. He seems very grounded. Unlike many Dawg fans, I think that Marshall will initially be a complement to Crowell–not a replacement. When Crowell is healthy, he is a tremendous back with burst, speed and vision. Bobo will rotate backs regularly to keep defenses tired. I’m predicting 500-600 yards rushing, 2 TDs and 15 receptions, 1 TD. Realizing that he’s a young back, the only way I see him getting 20+ touches a game is if Crowell is not a factor (off-field issues, injuries, etc.)

BMDPD

February 6th, 2012
1:45 pm

Ya’ll sound worse than chicken fans. KM is the next KM (Knowshon). Ya’ll have hope like the chickens, but chickens got us beat. When we start losing, we start losing hope and blaming everyone. Chickens? Well, they never seem to lose hope or heart.

[...] how many eighteen-year olds, Georgia recruits or otherwise, say something like this? “I know a lot about the history of running backs, not just here, but everywhere. Obviously [...]

tony

February 6th, 2012
1:48 pm

Mr.Richt got just what he wanted: turning players against those who defy his mediocre style of coaching. Trouble is writing all over that decision to have that many quality runningbacks on one team. I wish Chris Petersen was dawga hc.

BMDPD

February 6th, 2012
1:50 pm

tony, you are fair weather and whine like a girl. Bama could use a new fan. They aren’t too far away. How bout Tech, maybe?

Rondawg 214

February 6th, 2012
1:52 pm

Wookie I agree with you. IC didnt get to work out over the summer, and was playing in highschool shape. On top of that he only played half games in hs cause they were winning 48 to nothing. Happy we got KM but I think IC will unload this year as well..GO DAWGS!

tony

February 6th, 2012
2:04 pm

BMDPD, whining works young man. Look how many championships those whining NY fans got from their teams. You don’t think the Gators and Bama fans didn’t whine? Real fans whine because we expect the best from our teams. Fair weather fans expect failure. Get on board with the real fans sir.

The great Vince Lombardi said: There’s no second place in football…..either you’re first or last.

7576DAWG

February 6th, 2012
2:10 pm

Last year when Crowell got tired we had a slow Samuel’s or two 5′6″ tall tailback’s in Harton and Thomas they gave it their all but someone that small can not be very productive in the SEC. When you have forth and 1 a tired Crowell couldn’t get the job done and the other two would usually get tackled for a lose. Malcome was in the Dawg house too much.
2012 is looking real promising. I actually can see a running game to complement out passing game. Hopefully it will take enough pressure off Murray that he won’t turn the ball over near as much. If our Offense is as balanced and productive as it seem’s to be set up for Georgia will not only get a pre-season top 7 rating but will stay there all season. Also can’t wait to see how good Marshall Morgan is. Georgia would have won two more game’s last year with a reliable field goal kicker.
You Alabama fan’s may get your wishes at the end of next year.