Southfield’s season didn’t end with a championship like Lawrence Marshall planned, but that doesn’t mean the four-star defensive end didn’t make a major impression with his standout play. Early in the year Farmington high coach John Bechtel called the 6-4, 230-pounder "the finest player I’ve ever seen.” His performances against opponents the rest of the way garnered similar praise.
“I got stronger and I played a lot better,” Marshall said. “I played way better than last year. I took on a lot of double teams this year… more than last year. I think I did good. I am better with my hands. I’m using my hands more and getting to the quarterback more. When I got to the quarterback I made an impact when I hit the quarterback.”
“I don’t think I had more sacks, but I had more fumbles when I hit the quarterback. I got double teamed a lot this year, so it was harder to get to the quarterback… but when I got there, you knew I was there.”
That certainly was true in the late season match-up with state championship finalist Clarkston.
“I hit the quarterback so hard that you heard the hit and he fumbled it,” recalled Marshall. “It was like the Jadaveon Clowney hit.”
That success, though, didn’t come without adversity. One of his most significant obstacles was the dreaded injury bug.
“It was hard,” he said looking back. ”It was my first year ever suffering injury that I had to miss a game from. It was hard just staying in the training room. There were a couple of days before we played Clarkston where I was in the training room like the whole day. I didn’t even practice. I had turf toe. I couldn’t run or nothing with the foot. That whole week I was in the training room and I didn’t practice. I’m not used to that.”
While playing with discomfort was certainly frustrating, Marshall had no problem mustering the intestinal fortitude to fight through it. That’s because the physical pain he endured paled in comparison to the mental anguish he had to overcome after losing his father prior to the season. He did that by using the elder Marshall’s memory as a source of motivation.
“It was on my mind every game,” he said proudly. “Just playing for him because he was the reason I started playing football. Every game I just asked him to guide me and do what I do best… play football and just have fun out there.”
While that sense of purpose clearly fueled much of the excitement Marshall generated throughout the season, he also attributed many of his fun times to his lining up next to Malik McDowell.
“With Malik it was perfect because he clogged up the whole middle and he led me to get more tackles and more plays,” explained Marshall. “If you clog up the middle you have to go outside. If you go outside he can go outside too. Him on the team was like a big relief for me. He is just a big body out there clogging up the middle.”
Their days as a high school tandem are obviously over, but Marshall believes football fans haven’t seen the last of this dynamic duo.
“I think (McDowell) is going to Michigan,” said Marshall. “His parents are always about grades. His parents are about grades, so I think he is going to Michigan. I don’t even try to recruit him that much though. I used to hate when other players used to try and recruit me. I know how it feels when other people always say come to my school, come to my school. So I just try and back off, but still recruit him at the same time.”
While Marshall is still subtly recruiting McDowell, other schools are still aggressively recruiting him. Despite the best efforts of opposing coaches the Southfield star insists his collegiate future will be spent in Ann Arbor.
Apparently the rest of his classmates have the same outlook. The Wolverines’ recent losses may have even made them more committed.
“Next year we winning the whole thing,” Marshall said confidently. “That’s all we worry about… next year. We got Jabrill Peppers, we got Mo Ways… we got a class coming in. We talk every day. When we talk, we just always think about Michigan… always talk about how we are going to be up there next year, who our roommates are, and all that.”
“Nobody is talking about decommitting or anything like that.”