Rebel freshman Wide Receiver Marshay Green, using speed and guile, set all kinds of scoring records in Louisiana high school football, but when he graduated from high school there was one score he didn't master - the ACT.
Due to being "short" on the college entrance exam, he had to sit out the 2005 season after signing with Ole Miss until he made a qualifying score.
That was accomplished last November, opening the door for him to enroll at Ole Miss this semester.
So the 5-10, 173-pound speedster - in essence - got a bonus, an extra spring practice. Technically, five years to play four expanded to 5 1/2 years to play four. (Marshay could redshirt next year, but barring injury, that won't happen.)
Anyway, long story short, Marshay entered spring training as somewhat of an unknown commodity. He won't leave spring training that way.
In 13 practices, he has established himself as the number one 'H' receiver, despite being like his last name, green.
"Marshay has a lot to learn, but he's very gifted athletically and I love his motor. He gives you everything he's got on every play," said WR Coach Matt Lubick. "His raw skills are excellent, but what's got him at number one right now is his every-play intensity. We can live with some assignment mistakes and technical problems right now due to his effort."
Marshay has also drawn the praise of Special Teams Coordinator Chris Rippon as a return specialist. Like Lubick, Rippon talks of Green's athletic ability as a sidebar.
"Speed, quickness, a knack for hitting the right hole are all qualities of Marshay's, but what I like the most about him is his courage. Not every kid will hit it up in there as hard as Marshay will," Rip stated. "He's courageous and that's something you have to have to be a great return man. You know when you get back there that there are going to be some tremendous collisions when two players meet who both have a full head of steam. That doesn't phase him."
Marshay takes it all in stride, having learned a valuable lesson of patience and persistence when he didn't qualify to enroll last summer.
"I was a tailback in high school and now I am a wide receiver. That's a huge adjustment," he calculated. "I have a lot to learn and a lot of ground to make up, so I'm giving it everything I've got and staying patient with myself. When I mess up, I try not to get down and try to realize it's all just part of the process of learning.
"I'm learning routes, how to read defenses, how to block defenders in the open field, angles, techniques of getting in and out of route breaks, how to get off press coverage - it's a lot. It would be easy to get overwhelmed, but I'm not going to let it get me. I'm just going to keep going until I get it right."
Green said the adjustment to college football is also difficult, but he's handling that as well.
"Everyone here is bigger, faster and smarter than I am used to facing. I still feel I have an advantage over most guys in terms of quickness and elusiveness, but not as big of an advantage as I did in high school," he explained. "I've always been the 'little' guy, so that's no major problem right now. I know what my strengths are and I play to them."
Marshay likes challenges and is facing several, he says.
"I've got a lot to do. I really need to get my weight up to about 190 pounds," he said. "I'm not physical enough in the blocking game. I have to get stronger. My hands are good, but they could be a lot better. For now, they are just OK.
"And then there is the learning part."
He's applying the same principles of learning his football assignments as he is in the classroom.
"If you pay attention, everything is cool. If you don't, you go home with your tail tucked between your legs," he smiled. "That's pretty simple."
Marshay downplays the "courage" comment by Rippon a little, adding his own take.
"I have a lot of confidence in my ability to take a punt or kickoff the distance. That's a strength and, like I said, I try to play to my strengths," he stated. "Besides, if you play for Coach O, you aren't going to lack courage. You have to compete all the time with him in charge and he doesn't like 'weak' players. You have to be physically and mentally strong to play for him, and I like that.
"Right now, I'm holding up OK mentally, but I've got work to do physically. I have to get stronger and more physical. That's my goal."
Marshay has already made a favorable impression on all involved, but he doesn't believe he's scratched the surface of what he will accomplish in the years to come.
"Playing against an SEC defense this spring has been good for me. It's showed me exactly what I have to do to excel," he ended. "I'm OK with what I have accomplished so far, but I know I have a long way to go and I know I will get there sooner or later."
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