Marquardt Ready to Make his Mark

He plays on a position in great need for help, and after turning heads on the scout team it's no wonder why great things are expected from defensive tackle Michael Marquardt. He was forced to sit out in 2005 following his transfer from BYU, and by his own admission being away from football did have some positives. Nevertheless, he's aware of the incredible opportunity that he has with the Sun Devils, and knows that the journey to possible greatness starts right now in spring practice.

"Yeah, it's been a long time and I'm happy to be back," said the 6-4 288 Michael Marquardt on the first day of spring practice. "I was worried about sitting out for a year, and I knew there would be a lot of challenges because I wouldn't be able to play. Fortunately, I had a good experience and I learned a lot from our offense, especially the guys on the offensive line. They helped me get better and I'm happy I improved."

It's no secret that the Arizona State defensive line has had its fair share of problems in 2005. For Marquardt, who hails from Vista, Calif., it was naturally hard to sit on the sidelines watching his depleted position come up short on several occasions. "I think the defense in general really struggled," commented Marquardt. "When we were up five points against USC with 5:48 left in the game and we go down, that's hard on everybody. I wished more than anything that I could be out there, and that was one of the most difficult challenges I had to go through."

Fellow defensive line transfers Loren Howard and Tranell Morant had strong player and coach connections respectively, that made their decision to don the maroon and gold somewhat obvious. On the other hand, Marquardt's journey to Tempe started with a tough career decision and ended with just a good old strong impression made by the Sun Devils. "I just wasn't sure what my place was and what my role as a player was there (at BYU)," he recalled. "I really started questioning myself why I even came there in the beginning. So that led on to talking to my head coach, we discussed it and at the end and we decided that maybe it's a good idea I get a new start somewhere else."

"ASU by far was the best choice I could make," Marquardt continued. "I instantly really respected Coach Koetter, and appreciated his attitude towards the game. I was really impressed on my recruiting trip." The defensive tackle added that he was never heavily pursued by ASU, but then again as a player who committed to BYU after his junior year in high school, his list of suitors was very minimal to begin with.

Witnessing players struggling with the game, after not playing for a year, is common all across college football. It may be hard to recognize the benefits of sitting out a whole season, but Marquardt explained that doing that was a blessing in disguise for himself. "Absolutely," he stated. "I just got back from my mission and I came back real light, So this was an opportunity to get the strength back in my legs, and get back to the fundamentals of football."

Taking a forced sabbatical, has contributed much to his strongest skill. "I feel like my biggest strength is the ability to read offenses," he said. "I see the line, I see everything inside and I'm able to use my technique and work around any challenges I come about." Marquardt passes the proverbial eye test, and appears to be extremely fit for someone that will wage the heavyweight fights in the trenches. "I'm definitely a defensive tackle. I know there were some rumors out there that I was 260, but I'm pushing 3 bills right now (laughs)."

Michael Marquardt is one of a handful new defensive linemen that will be counted to quickly turn around the team's front four and establish the defense as a force that will be light years better than last season's version. That being said, would his mantra be summed up as: starting position or bust? "That's the way I see it," he admitted. "I'm here to challenge myself and be a starting player. Spring is where I start establishing my career and setting it up for the future."

Better days ahead for Marquardt, can certainly signal a much needed turnaround on this side of the ball for the Sun Devils…

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