Yeah, not a headline, but it's part of the connection to running back prospect Mike Marrow, who plays for New Albany High School, in a town that shares the same name.
Bo Pelini went to high school at Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, Ohio.
Again, not a big headline, but it offers more depth to the connection between Nebraska's first-year head coach and Marrow himself. Or we should say, his dad.
"He and my dad were like two of the bigger scorers in basketball when they played together at Cardinal-Mooney," Mike said of Bo Pelini and his dad, Vince, who was not only an All-American in basketball as a prep, but played tight end for the Buffalo Bills during the epic run, where quarterback Jim Kelly led the Jersey team to the Super Bowl four straight times. "They were both like really good basketball players and they were also best friends."
That's a friendship which lasts to this day, the younger Marrow saying that the two still keep in touch on a steady basis.
But now it's down to football.
At 6-1 and 240 pounds, Marrow comes off as a bruising type back, capable of seeing holes and busting through them or making a few of his own. Because of his size he's being recruited right now to play both the main I-back position or the one just in front. "I know Illinois is recruiting me as a fullback, and Notre Dame is, too, and Penn State is recruiting me as a running back right now," he said. "As for Nebraska, we're still trying to figure that out, but I think they want me as a running back."
While running backs his size aren't common, Nebraska sports a bruising back similar to Marrow, sophomore Quentin Castille standing around 6-1 and weighing 250 pounds. That kind of size is nice, according to Marrow, because it may take longer to get into the secondary than it does for those speed backs, but once he's there, there aren't players in his way, they're victims. "If you can see a cornerback or safety coming up, I just put my head down and run them over," he said. "Some of them try to take me up high, but they just bounce off and I drive them to the ground."
For his junior campaign, Marrow averaged over five yards per carry on this way to over 800 yards on the year, scoring 10 touchdowns for the Eagles, who would go onto finish the year 7-3. And on defense, playing middle linebacker Marrow notched close to 30 tackles on the season. Now Marrow isn't sure whether or not he'll get recruited to play linebacker or between running back and fullback, which one he'll eventually play. But he said that ultimately, it really doesn't matter. "I just want to play. I mean, if I am going to be a fullback, I want to be one in a system which uses them, which some of these schools said that they do," he said. "But really, how the place feels to me means more than anything and what it's going to be like for my college career. That's what matters the most to me."
That kind of trust a recruit often says ranks number one on their list, seems to be there already for the big red. But Marrow said that Bo Pelini isn't the only thing he knows about the Huskers. "They have a big tradition there and the fans are pretty crazy people say. I know I want to get there and check it out," he said.
As for a timeframe on that, Marrow said that school gets done toward the end of May, and after that he plans on taking a trip there, but before that to Alabama, which joins Nebraska, Toledo and Penn State as the schools who have offered him thus far.
That timeframe is key for Marrow, because he said that not long after that, he hopes to know just where he wants to go. "There are some other schools which look like they are going to offer like Michigan, Notre Dame and Illinois. But I'd like to have my decision done with not long after I take my visits during the Summer," he said. "
As for favorites right now Marrow said that these make up his short list:
"I like Alabama, Penn State, Nebraska and Illinois. I know that could change, but those are the teams I like now," he said.
Back to the Huskers and the obvious connection, Marrow said that it's nice, it answers some questions and if his dad says Bo Pelini is a good guy, Mike figures that's good enough for him. But in the end it comes down to just how Mike himself feels, wherever he eventually goes. "I just want to feel comfortable with the coaches, the players and where it's at. And I can't know that until I visit there," he said. "My dad knowing coach Pelini is great, but that doesn't mean Nebraska is going to suit me the best. That's why I am taking these unofficial visits – so I can check these places out and see for myself."