Bradley Marquez is a bit of a mystery man for the 2013 Red Raiders. He is coming off a severe injury, he has the option to bolt to Major League Baseball whenever he wants, and on top of that, Marquez belongs to a fluid receiving corps in which he could play any position.
Red Raider fans need not fear, however. Marquez is fully primed to be front and center for Tech, when the squad opens the season against SMU on August 30.
Most important, Marquez is healthy. He suffered a season-ending knee injury against West Virginia in game six of last season, but is fully recovered.
"Yes, sir, pretty close to 100 percent," says Marquez when asked about his health.
"I feel real good. In other words, I feel real good out here just trying to get in the groove of things. It's been a while since I've been on this field, so as far as physically, I feel good and I'm just kind of shaking off the rust a little bit."
It is still extremely early, but Marquez appears to have the inside track on a starting berth as well. He is currently manning the Z receiver position, which is no surprise, but his top competition, redshirt freshman Reginald Davis, is a bit of a surprise. With Javon Bell not currently in the mix at this position, Marquez is the odds-on favorite to start and get the lion's share of the reps.
Coming back from a five-month layoff and immediately being thrust into a starting role is a difficult task, if only from a stamina standpoint. Compounding matters, new head coach Kliff Kingsbury already has his offense operating at warp speed.
"It [practice] is a lot faster," Marquez states emphatically.
"I mean, we were fast, but we're faster. It's fast and we practice really fast from when first walk out here. It's technically called a walk-through, but it's fast, even the walk-through is fast, so as far as the last two practices I can say the speed has definitely picked up a lot."
Naturally, there is a method to the mercurial madness. Kingsbury wants to be able to run opponents ragged when the play is for keeps.
"Definitely translated to the football field, yes sir. You train your body this way every practice and come game time it's gonna feel easy because your body is used to it instead of just trying to turn it up. We want to turn it up out here so we can take it to the field," Marquez confirms.
And according to Marquez, the Red Raiders, in Michael Brewer, will have the perfect quarterback to gut gassed defenses this season. Brewer's athleticism is the reason why.
"Athleticism," Marquez responds without hesitation when asked what Brewer brings to the quarterback position. "First off, his athleticism. If a play breaks down there's always room for him to get out and stuff."
As Red Raider defenses have learned from brutal experience over the last 15 years, there's nothing more demoralizing than having a quarterback leak out for a long run on 3rd-and-long. In 2013, Tech may finally be able to inflict this misery on the opponent.
But according to Marquez, there's more to Brewer than just a good set of wheels.
"…just the winning mentality," Marquez continues in describing Brewer.
"He comes from Lake Travis and that's a program everybody really knows well across Texas and even nationwide. He comes from that program so he's been trained well since high school and he prepares himself every day since he's been here. I think this is his third spring ball that he's going through and it's finally his time. He's had his time to wait, and right now we're excited about him. We're ready to see him back on the field in game-time situations, but definitely that competitive nature, that winning attitude and athleticism would be what he brings."
"Baseball's definitely in my future. Just like both sports. I've been doing them both and I feel like I try to dedicate myself to both of them. The Mets are a great organization and they've done a lot for me. They're the ones putting me through school and stuff so baseball is definitely a big part of my life as much as football. It just so happens that I have to go to school and spend a lot more time here than at baseball going into summer, but definitely not one over the other right now."
With any luck, Marquez will remain injury free in 2013, and live up to the promise both the Mets and Red Raiders see in him.