Combs Narrows List to Seven

Los Angeles (Calif.) Pierce College defensive lineman Marquel Combs has narrowed his list down to seven and has set his announcement date...

Los Angeles (Calif.) Pierce College defensive lineman Marquel Combs has no shortage of Division-1 options.

The 6-foot-3, 305-pound prospect collected over forty offers, recently narrowing down his list to, in no particular order, seven programs: Kansas, Kansas State, California, Iowa State, Washington State, Oregon State, and Michigan State, stating that he "sees a lot of qualities in those programs that [he] like[s]."

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Combs is such a highly touted athlete. Combs has played in three defensive schemes -- a 3-3-5, 3-4, and 4-3 -- during his football career, growing as a player while displaying his versatility on the line.

"I've learned a lot from last year. I used to play in the 4-3 defense and everyone saw me beat the person one-on-one, being very aggressive. This year, we're in a new 3-4 defense and I'm playing nose tackle and working really hard at it. I was around 315 lbs. before the season and decided I didn't like the weight, so I decided to drop a little bit; now I'm at 305. I've improved a lot, especially on the little things.

"Getting double-teamed and triple-teamed, nose tackles don't really see too much action, so I've been working hard to help the team the best I can. I stop the run; I don't let anybody run up my gap, I control the hole up front, and continue to be a force for the team and the best leader I can be. A lot of teams like to cut me down due to the fact that they know what I'm capable of. It was a big jump, but I'm working hard. I think I've done very well," he said.

Though he only began playing football during his freshman year of high school, Combs acclimated to the game quickly. Since coming to Pierce, he's developed a strong work ethic, putting in numerous hours both on the field and in the weight room. This season, Combs has already posted 18 tackles, two sacks, and six and half tackles for loss.

"I work out heavily. When I was back at home for the summer, I was doing three workouts, a pool workout, running in the morning and lifting at night. That's why I gained a lot of weight. After that, I cut down a little bit. I felt like 305 lbs. was a comfortable weight, I felt pretty good about it. I'm just trying to help my team the best way I can," he said.

Combs plans to announce his college decision on December 19th, JUCO Signing Day. Until then, he has a few weeks to weigh out his options.

"I have to feel comfortable at whatever school I go to. The atmosphere is important; I want to be a part of something that's special. Another thing is if I can come in and help rebuild a program as quickly as possible. That's my main goal. I don't want to go to a school and just be a number. I've had a lot of teammates and friends who have gone on to big schools and just became a number. I'd rather help the program rebuild, be the cause of it. I also want a school where I feel that there is a family atmosphere, where I am comfortable with the team. That's going to be a big part of it," he said.

Combs has his reasons for each program still on the list.

"I like what I see in Kansas, the environment and the atmosphere. I also have my friend, Marcus Jenkins-Moore, committed over there. He's like my brother; we've been together for over three years in this journey. We went to prep school together three years ago and have been like brothers ever since. He's the one who brought me out to Pierce and he's been recruiting me pretty heavily.

"With Kansas State, I love what [interior defensive line coach] Mo Latimore is doing with his defensive line up front and what they have done with JUCO players over the years. At Iowa State, I feel like I could go in and help them win the Big 12 very soon.

"It's never just one team that's going to dominate the Big 12 every year. It's always a toss up; like this year, you see that Kansas State just came in and did what they had to do. I like that a lot; it lets you know it's a hard conference to play in. I feel like I could go in and make an immediate impact at one of those schools. The same thing is true for the Pac-12.

"At Cal, I think [defensive line coach] Todd Howard is a wonderful guy and I like what he brings to the table, what he did with Brian Price and some of their big players. Oregon State is an uprising team. Mike Riley does a great job with the players that he has.

"I really like Mike Leach at Washington State; I like his whole system. Many people criticize him about how he runs his program, but to be a man, you have to go through a lot. You have to be able to swim with the sharks. I like what he does. Also, my recruiter, [receivers coach] Dennis Simmons, is from Memphis, also. I like him a lot; I feel like it's a really good atmosphere for me. They also just got a commitment from one of my friends, Vince Mayle, who plays up north. He's a big receiver, an awesome guy. I like him a lot, and he's been recruiting me pretty hard to go to Wazzu.

"Michigan State is a cool program. I love what [defensive line coach] Ted Gill does with his whole defensive line. They rotate guys in and keep them fresh. I love what he does with all the players he has, like Jerel Worthy, and what he brings to the table. He's been doing it so long, and I like that a lot," he said.

For Combs, who has has three years to play two, proximity is less of an issue than is the opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact for a team.

"I don't want to be a number," he reiterated. "I want to be that guy. I want to win a championship. With all my schools that I picked, it's the same thing; I could go in and play right away. I'll be three for two, but I'm working hard to finish in one so I can go to the league. I know that will be a hard task, but I'm willing to take that shot. It depends on how my team would look and if we could contend for the national championship or a big time BCS bowl. It's just a dream, and I'm almost there," he said.

Combs is on track to graduate in December and will join his future program in time to participate in spring football.

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