For Lawrence Marshall life is different these days. The Southfield star’s phone doesn’t ring off the hook, he isn’t juggling visit dates to multiple schools, and he doesn’t have everyone he bumps into asking him which college he will attend. In other words his Michigan commitment has caused things to quiet down considerably. That has allowed him to focus his attention on his more immediate athletic goals.
“My game is going to be crazy this year,” a confident Marshall stated. “It is going to be epic this year. My explosion got better, my hands got quicker, and I got much faster than last year. I got better. I put on a whole lot of weight. I’m up to 230 now. I want to get to 240. I’m eating right and working out every day. I have a personal trainer now.”
“There is a big target on my back and I’m just going to play through it.”
The future Wolverine has fully embraced the scrutiny that comes with his new Maize & Blue status. All of the chatter has helped put a bit of a chip on his shoulder. It has also taken some of the pressure off a cast of Southfield players he plans to lead to prosperity next year.
“We’ve got to beat Cass Tech,” he said firmly. “That’s the main thing on my mind right now… winning our first game. We are going to be good this year. We have a lot of returning players coming back. The whole defensive line is coming back. The offensive line is coming back. Everything should be good this year.”
Actually, everything should be great if Malik McDowell opts to take his considerable talent to Southfield. Rumors of the Detroit Loyola star’s planned transfer have run rampant for weeks now. If Marshall knows anything about the veraciousness of such talk, he certainly isn’t letting on.
“Anything is possible,” Marshall said coyly. “I can’t say nothing about that, but I hope it happens.”
McDowell’s presence would certainly make Marshall’s life at defensive end easier. It would also have a similar impact on his life off the field as a recruiter.
“All the people who commit to Michigan (are part of) a message group and we talk every day,” Marshall explained. Everybody has a certain person that they are after. So Jabrill (Peppers) is after (Da’Shawn) Hand. I have Malik McDowell. I talk to him almost every other day, at least once a week. I talk to him about Michigan.”
Those efforts receive stern opposition from other coaches and recruits. A number of future Buckeyes, for instance, have put on their recruiting hats as well. That has added yet another front on which the rivalry is being fought. Marshall got a reminder of just how intense the battle between Michigan and Ohio State is during a terse exchange between Wolverine defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and Buckeye assistant Mike Vrabel at the Sound Mind Sound Body Academy a few weeks back.
“I saw that and it was very funny,” Marshall said laughingly. Coach Vrabel was like, ‘Coach Mattison come on! Hurry up! Hurry up!’”
“Coach Mattison was like, ‘that’s why you didn’t go to Ohio State Lawrence!’ (laughter).”
In retrospect that memorable interaction was more comical than serious. It’s much more difficult for Marshall to find the humor in many of the vitriolic remarks he received from Buckeye fans in the aftermath of his commitment to Michigan. He is now extremely familiar with just how rabid the Scarlet & Gray fan base is.
“When I went to the (Michigan) game at Ohio State it was crazy,” Marshall recalled. When Michigan came on the field and ran through their practice type thing, (the fans) were crazy. When I committed to Michigan I heard from a lot of them. A whole lot of people were saying some crazy stuff. It was some crazy stuff they were saying.”
To date Marshall hasn’t offered any replies to the verbal taunts. He plans to let his play do all his talking for him in the years to come.