No Gloves for this line

Dan Marino used to do it on TV. He'd give gloves out to his linemen in appreciation for all the hard work they put in. Sure, it was just an ad, but Dan's heart was in the right place, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to see another smart man borrowing a page from the future Hall-of-Famer's playbook. Instead of those Isotoners, however, Narbonne's <b>Marcus O'Keith</b> knows the best way to his OL's hearts...through their stomachs.

"My parents treat them every Wednesday," Marcus told about his unique gesture of appreciation. "After dinner, we watch film of the previous game. We go over things like missing assignments, certain blocks missed, things like that. So we see how we can improve as a team. My mom is a great cook! But tonight we're going out to Black Angus. The first time she cooked chicken, collard greens, yams and cornbread. And the next time my Dad made a big pot of spaghetti."

The 6'0", 175-pound O'Keith is trying every culinary delight he can to get his line motivated, but even the best food in the land can't top a team like Long Beach Poly, who limited Marcus to less than 20 yards on the ground. He knows he's starting slow, but hopes to finish strong.

"Their defense is really good," O'Keith said when talking about Poly. "Actually their linemen were really good. Once I got past their line it was actually pretty easy. It was just tough getting through their line, that's all. Our linemen just couldn't compete with them. They were really big. It's been slow so far for me. I got off to a slow start. Venice was our first game. Since people are keying on me, my coach has been putting me out at different positions, like flanker and into the slot to catch passes. I'm enjoying it, but I'm really a running back."

O'Keith has been enjoying his new-found success on the edges. "If they play man, it's really easy," he said. "I just put a juke on 'em and get 'em off the line."

After running for over a mile last year, Marcus has only racked up 200 yards so far this season. And if things couldn't get worse, he was held out of a game for precautionary reasons, only to see his backup blow up - literally. "Our backup went for 344 yards that game," said O'Keith. "I wanted to play that game. It was a real easy game, and my coach didn't want me to play in it, but I knew I would get some yards in that game."

His slow start hasn't stopped Division-1 schools from calling Marcus every week. "Washington, UCLA, Notre Dame, Oregon and Nebraska are calling the most," he said. "I'd say UCLA, Notre Dame, Cal and Washington are putting the most pressure on, but they aren't asking me to commit yet or anything like that. Coach Neuheisel (from Washington) just called today but it was during the day, so I wasn't around. It's cool though."

O'Keith has also started to work the game circuit as well. "I went to the San Diego State-Arizona game and a USC game," said Marcus. "I liked the USC game more than the San Diego State game. There were more people there and the USC fans were more into the game. There's a lot of tradition and I could feel it."

Marcus isn't ready to pare down his list right away, but said that he's still looking at UCLA, Cal, Notre Dame, Washington, Oregon and Nebraska. "I'll know in another three weeks or a month where I'll be taking my trips." Top Stories