Leeds teammates talk Thursday Tide trip

Leeds (Ala.) High is coming off of a state title in 2014, and it returns the two key cogs that provided the offensive firepower for one more season. Both three-stars on Scout.com, many SEC programs have given chase and Alabama had both on campus Thursday for the final spring practice before A-Day.

There weren’t many challenges for Leeds (Ala.) High School in 2014, finishing the regular season 9-1 and breezing through the Class 4A state playoffs in scoring no less than 31 points a game and giving up a total of 14 before the title game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Led offensively by class of 2016 three-stars Tadarryl Marshall and Tre Nation at quarterback and running back, respectively, the Green Wave dominated Tuscumbia (Ala.) Deshler in the state championship and return for their senior season this fall with a lot of recruiting attention to go along with defending the title.

Alabama is among the SEC programs recruiting each consistently, and the duo made it to Tuscaloosa for a spring practice visit on Thursday.

“It went good, we got there right when they started doing team, offense versus defense, and I got the chance to see the quarterbacks, receivers and safeties to see what they were doing and to try and pick up a couple of things,” Marshall said. “I’m watching everybody now, because it might change, in terms of the position they want me to play. Even if I do have to play safety, it won’t take me as long to get the hang of it because I’ve been watching it and getting tips.”

Holding a verbal offer from the Crimson Tide, there has been plenty of discussion about the dual-threat quarterback’s position at the next level. Like a signal-caller, he’s anticipated the scenario at many positions and remains open to several in college.

“I really talked to coach (Billy) Napier today, the wide receivers coach,” he said. “I was watching the wide receivers a lot more than anywhere else. I think that’s where they want me to play at Alabama. So I spent the majority of my time with them.

“When they’re doing the one-on-ones, two-on-twos or pass skelly, I’m watching the DBs and the receivers. I’m watching all of them at the same time. At camps, I’ve been going to receiver a lot. And I’ll be playing more safety this year (at Leeds), too.”

Versatility is nothing new for Marshall, who has additional extensions from Auburn to play defense, Georgia Tech at quarterback, and many others.

“I’ve always played receiver because my dad played receiver at Samford,” he said. “So growing up, that’s what I always thought I would play. Then I went to Leeds and they needed somebody to fill the quarterback spot.”

Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Auburn, Tech and possibly a few other programs will also have him on campus going forward, and a decision could be in the books by mid-Summer.

“Hopefully I’ll have a decision before my senior year starts,” Marshall said. I fit in at Alabama, but I fit in anywhere. My athletic ability will help me play anywhere, so it’s a matter of sitting down with the coaches, which I’ve done at Alabama.”

Marshall (left) fakes a handoff to fellow three-star Nation (right).

“They were passing the ball really well, the line blocked great, and the backs did a good job cutting up the field,” Nation said of his trip. “Kenyan Drake, he was working in the slot, and he looked really good. Derrick Henry is really explosive; he’s a one-cut back that likes to get downhill. The running back from Calera (Ronnie  Clark) looked pretty good, he ran pretty hard.

“The defense looked good, like Tony Brown, they just had a lot of energy today.”

Scout.com’s National Recruiter of the Year, Mario Cristobal, has been the lead recruiter for the Leeds duo. The group again touched base Thursday.

“We talked to coach Cristobal, and he just said to keep working and to keep my head on straight and do well in spring,” he said. “We start the 28th of April. I have a feeling they will be by to see us. I really think they’re just waiting to see if I’m staying on a good path and that I have a good (senior) season.”

Nation, who added offers from Middle Tennessee State and Troy during the week, will be back in Tuscaloosa for A-Day Saturday afternoon. While he’s on campus anywhere, he’s evaluating much more than the running back position he’s projected to play in college.

“I really want to see what the line is going to look like,” he said. “Coach Cristobal said he’s been recruiting big linemen, so I want to see what they’re about. I want to see what the running backs are about, too.

“I’m looking for linemen that don’t take no plays off. They have my back and I have theirs, so I’m looking somebody who will fight through the fourth quarter.”

Still looking to add the Crimson Tide offer to his list, Nation is in no rush to make a final decision despite holding double-digit scholarship offers. He is planning on a fall commitment at this time.

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