Marks Not Wrestling With Big 33 Snub

In football, disappointment is part of the game. And it can happen even to a first-team All-State selection who has won four straight PIAA championships; a player like four-star recruit and Penn State commitment Josh Marks.

Despite piling up an amazing resume at Southern Columbia High, the massive offensive lineman from Catawissa was not picked to represent Pennsylvania in the 2007 Big 33 Classic. While many feel Marks was slighted in the selection process, he is looking to take the high road.

“To be honest, I heard about it and I was disappointed at first,” Marks said. “I talked to [PSU assistant] Coach [Mike] McQueary and he said it's not a big deal. It's all politics. Being from a single-A school, it's not a big deal. I was disappointed but there's not much you can do about it now except use it as motivation. I'm going to work hard and show that I deserved to be in the game. I'm going to use it as a positive. I'm not looking into it that much. That's just the way it goes.”

When Marks says he isn't shedding any tears, he means it. Proof of that is seen in his current preparation for Penn State. With his high school football career officially completed and his college football career on the horizon, Marks has shifted his focus for the time being to wrestling. The sport affords him the chance to stay in shape as well as work on his overall footwork and coordination.

“I'm down to 280 pounds,” Marks reported. “Wrestling makes you a better football player with your footwork. The biggest thing is your feet. They are always moving. You have to have good feet to wrestle. Wrestling got my weight down a lot. I've lost 35 pounds since the start of football. I've lost a lot of fat from working out every day and lifting afterward. Once wrestling is done, I hope to stay at about 280 and just work out.”

Marks started the football season with 315 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame. But make no mistake, he isn't just partaking in wrestling merely as a means to prepare for his collegiate football career. On the contrary, he's been competing at a high level, and has already taken down some of the state's top wrestlers.

“I'm 5-0 and I just beat the No. 4 ranked kid in the state,” Marks said. “My sophomore year, I placed sixth in the state and last year I didn't wrestle. This year, I talked to Coach McQueary and he told me wrestling would make me a better football player.”

Marks is currently wrestling in the 285-pound class and is ranked as the top heavyweight in the region by WNEP's Super 16 ratings.

In previous interviews, Marks indicated the Penn State staff has not decided whether he will come in as a tackle or a guard. With his weight down to 280, is guard now the most likely destination?

“Coach McQueary just said he wants me to come in around 280,” Marks said. “It's always better to come in lighter. Whatever weight you put on at Penn State will be good weight.”

Marks has already felt a marked improvement in his speed, albeit his wrestling speed.

“It's hard to tell because I have not played football since I've lost the weight; but definitely in wrestling you can tell I'm quicker,” Marks said.

Already one of Penn State's Class of 2007 leaders, Marks said he has had chances to interact with several other members, including Nick Sukay. Marks' only regret is that he is not joining Sukay at University Park this semester. So needless to say, Marks is anxious to get on campus.

He will get a chance to do that this weekend when he makes his official visit. But he'll have to wait until the summer to arrive for good.

Marks' anticipation has been intensified by the way the Lions finished the season. He was genuinely excited to watch the Nittany Lions defeat Tennessee 20-10 in the Outback Bowl on New Years Day.

“To see them play like that against a team in the SEC that only lost three games, it was great,” Marks said. “In the beginning of the season [Tennessee] beat up on Cal. They are full of athletes. Penn State, I think in that game, they played their best game of the year and I think that's going to be big step going into next year. I think [Anthony] Morelli had his best game of the year and really showed what he can do. He had a lot of criticism, but that game should have shut people up.”

While talks of a national championship in 2007 may be premature, it is not completely out of the picture in Marks' view.

“There was a segment [during the Outback Bowl] where Derrick Williams said that next year we shouldn't accept anything less than a national title,” Marks said. “I think that's true. We just need a couple pieces to the puzzle. We have all the athletes; we just need to put it in together.

“Whether I'm redshirting or playing, to be able to come out of that tunnel in a Penn State uniform is a dream come true,” he added. “It's not like some schools where your stadium is packed only on the big games. We can count on 110,000 people being there for every game.”


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