Marshall has many options

Valley Christian High School running back Byron Marshall is in demand. He has many college programs and coaches from all across the country vying for his services. The speedy four-star running back is taking his time and looking at various options and getting to know different coaches as the process wears on.

Coming from Valley Christian High School in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Byron Marshall is quick and elusive. He is also deceptively strong. In the weight room, the 5-foot-10-inch, 191-pound running back benches about 205 pounds, power cleans 245, squats 495 and dead lifts about 465. He also runs a self-reported 4.4 forty.

As a ball carrier, he's naturally gifted and feels he's always had a special knack for slicing through defenses.

"Playing running back has always come natural to me," said the elite runner from San Jose. "I've always played running back since I was in Pop Warner. Ever since I started playing, it was just easy for me. Yeah, you have to be able to run really fast, but you also have to have good vision. That's something I have: good vision. You have to know what's going on and know from where the defense is coming. I try and anticipate what the defender is going to do, and that's how I know how to react.

"Off the field, and behind the scenes, I do a lot of extra work. With my footwork I try and make sure it as sharp as possible. I run drills with different scenarios in what a defender might try and do and just keep going over and over it. That way when it happens in a game I'm prepared for it, and my body knows how to react to it. I feel like I have really good quickness and strength, and so the combination of the two helps me to shake you and then explode really quick and accelerate off. I feel God has blessed me, that's for sure."

Sure, just about every football player makes such claims, but Marshall has the stats to back them up. The 2009 Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year and California Sophomore of the Year has put up some impressive numbers.

"I had 23 touchdowns and 1,632 total yards rushing," said Marshall. "I didn't have as many receiving touchdowns though this year. I do have really good hands. As much as I work on my footwork, I'll work on my routes and make sure that my routes are crisp. I did have around 10 catches on the year."

Marshall isn't just a running back either. He plays on the defensive side of the ball.

"I play corner and start at corner also," Marshall said. "Corner is really fun and I love defense. It's just a completely different mentality. Being out there one on one with another player, it's just you and another person. There's no excuses because you don't rely on someone else who didn't block for you. I like to hit on defense and get the crowd going and helping to change the momentum. I had around two interceptions last year, and I don't know how many tackles I had. I think I had around four or five tackles a game though."

The list of schools recruiting him is long and chalk full of quality programs from the Pac-10, Mountain West, Big 12, SEC and ACC. He currently has 16 scholarship offers: Air Force, Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, BYU, Cal, Fresno State, Idaho, Kansas State, Nevada, Northwestern, Oregon State, San Jose State, Stanford, Utah and Washington.

"I call Cal and talk to Coach Gould and the rest of the coaching program," Marshall said. "I like Cal and they have a really good program .... I talk to Oregon and I've been calling in with them and checking in with them to see how everything is going. They have a really good program and I like them. I email a lot of coaches too just to see how everyone is doing. It's kind of difficult because coaches can't call you all the time and can only call you on certain times, you know what I mean?

"ASU wants me to call them, and my brother went there and they want me to call them. Notre Dame, I gave them a call last week and I talked to Coach Denbock. Things went well.

"I've always been interested in SEC schools. I've always liked the way they play football out there. They're just about football and it seems like they play against the best players, so I've always wanted to go out there and play the best and dominating. I would like to play the best and match up my talent against their talent and then go from there."

Marshall admits that he doesn't know too much about BYU, but he does have a lot of respect for the Cougar program.

"All I really know is that they're Mormon. I know many of their players take football off for two years and then come back and start playing ball, and most of the team is married. I respect them. I really respect them and they expect a lot from their players. They try to share that with me more what they expect out of you, what the rules are, what you can and cannot do when you come to the school. Their players seem really good, you know what I mean? I respect them a lot."

At BYU, the coaches place a lot of emphasis on developing the character of the athletes. This is something that Marshall is interested in.

"I think that's key," Marshall said. "I think any coach that teaches you shouldn't be strictly about football, because that's his job. I feel like it's a coach's job to use football to teach about life. It's more attractive to me that a coach can use football to help him become more of a man. I want to have a relationship with a coach where I can talk to him about things. I can go to him and talk to him about my footwork and about football. Then I can go to and say, 'Hey coach, I've got this problem.' I can go to him and we can talk about life and he can help me become better as a person, you know what I mean? I look for that in a coach a lot."

The various coaches that have been involved in recruiting Marshall have at some point expressed that perspective in varying degrees.

"Pretty much every school has done that to some extent," Marshall said. "Cal mainly and Coach Gould. He always says, 'Byron, I'm just trying to get you in here and get to know you. I feel like any coach that just teaches you about football, he's failed. At Cal, we try to teach you how to be a man and how to play football and get you ready for the world.' There's a lot of schools that just don't want to teach you how to be a good football player."

With a long list of colleges to choose from, all of which provide a different experience, there are a few things Marshall is looking for at the next level.

"I want to go to a winning program," Marshall said. "A winning program is key, and I don't like losing and I've never been a good loser. I want to win.

"[I also want] a good positions coach and someone who knows what he's doing. I want a coach who is smart in what he does and can help me through a lot.

"An education is key and I want to get my degree. Also, the school environment, and [I want to] make sure everything is good. Have fun but not get into trouble. I would like to be around good people on campus and things like that."

Some school environments have more of a party atmosphere than others. Marshall said it won't matter where he goes, because he'll always be who he is now because of how he was raised.

"My brother, he goes to ASU but he was raised correctly, you know what I mean? I feel like having a life centered around good and having good morals is important. With that being said, if I do go to a party school, I'll have to make sure that my life is surrounded by God and stay close to what my parents instilled in me. If I go to a more liberal school, that would be alright. I'm not going to go out and party every night because that would be crazy. I don't want to go to a boring school. If I do go to a school that has a lot partying going on, I just need to stay on top of everything. I don't like it to control me, I control it and just do what's right."

Marshall feels that being on a campus with fewer distractions is good, but it won't play a main factor in his final decision.

"It's important, but it's not my main reason," he said "I like Notre Dame, and so it's a plus to have that spiritual background, but it's not the main reason."

As of now, Marshall has yet to narrow down a top five.

"I'm still so wide open," he said. "Still wide, wide open and I haven't tried to narrow it down. It's tough. It's tough and I'm still wide open. I still need to talk with coaches and get to know them and more about the colleges recruiting me. It's going to be a tough process but I'm still wide open."

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