Wide Receiver Prospect Hopes To Go Out On Top

Opelika wide receiver Marquez Strickland talks about his senior season and how recruiting is going.

Opelika, Ala.--Despite a good combination of physical talents as well as a knack for playing the game, Opelika High receiver Marquez Strickland is still waiting on his first scholarship offer to come down as his Bulldogs close out the regular season this Thursday night with a game at Tuscaloosa County.

One of the fastest prospects in Alabama this year at the wide receiver position, the 6-0 1/2, 196 Strickland was a standout at several camps over the summer and ran a very good time of 4.5 seconds in Atlanta at a Scout.com Combine. While he's done everything to catch the eye of coaches in the region he says he's still waiting to hear those magic words from a college coach.

"Things are going pretty good," Strickland says. "I'm talking with a lot of coaches and getting a lot of interest. I'm trying to get to some games so I can see teams play and also see some campuses. It has been really hard lately because between school and football it has been hectic. I'm trying to concentrate on graduating and finishing the year out strong.

"I'm hearing from Southern Miss, Troy, UAB, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Alabama State," he adds. "Coach (Spence McCracken) told me that Coach (Al) Borges called and asked about me and wanted to see a tape. They want me to come up there and meet with them. It's always exciting to hear from a Division I school."

Strickland is an big-play performer who can score from anywhere on the field.

Helping the Bulldogs to an 8-1 start with the only loss coming at number two Prattville early in the season, Strickland and Opelika have come on strong in recent weeks. They put an exclamation point on a region championship last week in a big victory over their biggest rival and Strickland along with running back Joseph Wilson and quarterback Brandon Dowdell had a lot to do with that.

In a 51-16 thrashing of the Auburn High School, Strickland won the duel against fellow receiver recruit Ralph Spry from Auburn by catching five passes for 80 yards and one touchdown. He also added four rushes for 35 yards.

For the season Strickland has 24 receptions for 437 and eight touchdowns. He has also added two rushing touchdowns. All of those numbers have come in limited action as the Bulldogs have dispatched most opponents by early in the second half.

"It felt good," Strickland says. "We had some payback to give them from last year because they beat us 14-7. We're a group of seniors and we didn't want to go out our last year with a loss to the Auburn Tigers because that's our crosstown rival. The coaches came up with a great game plan. The offense was clicking and the defense was clicking. We were able to get a big victory."

6-1 quarterback Brandon Dowdell has given the Bulldogs a presence at quarterback both running and throwing the football to Strickland.

Strickland is just one of the weapons for the Bulldogs as Wilson is a powerful runner on a small frame who gets the job done. Against Auburn the 5-9, 180 senior racked up 188 yards and four touchdowns on just 15 carries. At quarterback Dowdell went over the 1,000-yard mark in his first season playing football since the 9th grade and finished the night 8-8 passing for 151 yards and a touchdown. Both are getting more and more attention from recruiters as well and could be a late steal for someone looking for help on offense.

"Brandon has really developed," Strickland says. "I knew he was going to play good, but not as consistent as he's done. For being out two years he's played really great. Joseph Wilson is doing what he's been doing the past two years and that's run that ball. Our offensive line is playing great and has great chemistry. They are the core of our team."

Running back Joseph Wilson is one of the premier backs in Alabama this season.

With plenty of talent on offense and an improving young defense, the Bulldogs are poised to make a run at the Class 6A state championship. First they must finish out the regular season with a tough trip to Tuscaloosa County on Thursday night. Opelika will open the playoffs against Fairhope the next week and Strickland says they are gunning for it all in his final try as a Bulldog.

"We're confident now that we have this thing rolling," Strickland says. "Instead of just seeing it we believe it. We believe we can get to state. This is a lot of our last years and we're working our tails off to get there. We're going to take it week by week and hopefully do what we've got to do. In six weeks hopefully we'll be there."

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