Whether spawned from night club work experience or a hunger to stand out, Marquez made six tackles on kick coverage this year.
“It’s something I look at a lot because we’re all about making big plays on special teams,” Marquez said. “I just went out there trying to help out our defense. Make a big tackle and help the field position. It was our last home game for the seniors.”
Marquez is a two-year special teams starter. He enters his junior year in 2015 as one of Rutgers’ most experienced players on kickoff coverage.
“Being on special teams, you have to do something exotic to get noticed,” Marquez said. “I want to stand out that way so when my role in the offense comes, I can do the same thing.
“In this program, special teams means a lot. [Special teams coordinator Bob] Fraser always stresses that special teams is one-third of the game, and that Rutgers has won games on special teams.”
Rutgers takes its special teams seriously, and Marquez marked it as his path to a scholarship.
“As a walk-on, I had to bust my butt even harder,” he said. “Every time I had an opportunity on special teams, even when I was on scout team, I hustled and that led to me earning a starting spot on special teams and a scholarship.”
Both spots on the two-deep are up for grabs in spring practice.
“I’m not going to lie, that runs through my mind every day,” Marquez said. “Next year, I’m going to have to step into a bigger role, and I’m ready to take that. I have a lot of stuff in practice that I still have to work on, so it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but fun at the same time.”
The fullback battle begins in bowl practices with Marquez and scholarship freshman Jacob Kraut as the key competitors. Sophomore Devan Carter and walk-ons Lloyd Terry and Joey Lohman also factor into the position.
“In our program the fullback plays a big role,” Marquez said. “Just look at Michael Burton. I want to be a fullback that can help in more ways than just blocking. I’m more athletic. In high school I played receiver, so I’m good at going out for routes and catching the ball. If there’s anything I have to work on, it’s getting lower on my blocks.”
Marquez landed at Rutgers out of Egg Harbor (N.J.) after a semester at prep school. A similar path to safety Andre Hunt, Marquez happily walked on after lessons learned in prep school.
“It’s definitely fun, man,” he said. “It’s something you can’t take for granted. I came from no scholarships in high school because of my grades, especially with the chance for a scholarship now. I’m very grateful.”