July 9, 2011

Speed to burn

HOSCHTON - Speed is something you're born with it. Either you have it, or you don't.
Millbrook (N.C.) running back Keith Marshall certainly has it.

Marshall demonstrated that speed during Friday's first second day of the USATF Region III Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships when he and his 400 meter relay teammates turned in a time of 41.2.

"I ran a 10.64, but it was a minus-3.8 wind," he said. "We ran a 41.2 today, but last week we ran a 40.8. We had two messed up handoffs that cost us getting a better time today, but we qualified for nationals in Omaha at the end of July."

As a sophomore, Marshall said he ran a 4.22 in the 40 on grass during a camp at North Carolina.

It's this type of speed which has college recruiters drooling and offensive coordinators already figuring out how best to utilize that speed.

"I want to play running back, but if the coaches want to use me like Percy Harvin or Reggie Bush, I will do it," said Marshall, whose long-standing admiration of former Georgia great Herschel Walker is a well-known recruiting fact.

"Herschel Walker is the greatest of all time so I would love to work out with him," the 5-foot-11, 192-pounder said. "I heard he can still run a 4.3 so I would be right there with him."

Yes, Georgia is one the 32 schools nationwide which has offered Marshall a scholarship thus far, but he won't be able to come to next week's Dawg Night because of a track obligation.

"I have not been focusing on recruiting too much this summer, as I am concentrating on my senior year, my teammates and track. I probably will narrow my list again before the end of the summer, and make my decision in December," Marshall said. "I may go public at the Under Armour game, but I will tell the coaches by mid December."

But just because Marshall hasn't been focusing on his own situation, doesn't mean he is not keeping up with what's going on.

He talks to Bolles offensive tackle John Theus from time to time.

"I have talked to John Theus a few times. We talked about some schools we both liked, and I joked that I would love to have him blocking for me. I also talk to Andrus Peat and DJ Humphries," he said. "I would love to go to school with some big lineman, and I would like to go to school with Ronald Darby as well. I would like to go to school with all of those guys, but I have to make the best decision for me."

He keeps up with other running backs as well, watching their highlights to pick up whatever pointers he can.

"I get bored and I watch highlights. I have watched all of the running backs in this class and the last class. I have been following this since I was a little kid," Marshall said. "I do not think I am as good as everybody else, but everybody is after me for a reason I guess. I guess I am very critical of myself."

Rivals tabs Marshall as a four-star prospect, something he hinted serves as motivation. He'd love to be a five.

"You are not supposed to pay too much attention to rankings, but I guess it is a compliment. I know everyone except for Rivals has me as a five star, but my parents remind me none of that matters once you set foot on campus," he said. "I know everyone has an opinion, and I have heard that Rivals said I have a problem with fumbling, but I only had three fumbles last year, and it was all in one game."

Learning how to deal with fickle college football fans is also a lesson Marshall is starting to learn.

Like most people in today's Internet savvy world, Marshall has a page on Facebook. He just doesn't pay attention to the countless messages he receives every day and for the most part keeps thoughts of his recruitment to himself.

"Geno Smith tweets a lot about recruiting. I try not to mess with that part on there, but he and Kenyan Drake tweet all the time about it," he said. "I do not read anything the fans post at me or on Facebook, but most of the time it is just them telling me to go to their school. It does not mean anything, because I guarantee once I commit somewhere, they will all hate me if I go to their rival school. They either love you or hate you at any SEC school."

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