Early Riser

When Jerrod Ackley took over the Immokalee High School football program three years ago, it didn't take him long to realize the talent level of Jacky Marcellus.

"When I took the job it was the spring of his freshman year, and you could see his skill set right away," Ackley said of Marcellus. "All of our players had Division I offers, so it made sense to run the spread. With Jacky, we could see he could catch the ball as well as run it, and since he's not a 6-1, 220-pound running back is was clear that 25 carries per game didn't fit his game the best. We knew that with his explosiveness that if we got the ball in open space he could take advantage of it, because in the open field he's as good as any player there is. We line him up as much or more at wide receiver than we do at running back, in order to get him on the edge and let him use his speed."

The theme of "best fit" also extended to Marcellus' selection of West Virginia, which is something of a mirror image of Immokalee's offensive philosophy.

"West Virginia is one of the places that we talked about for a long time, because it fits his profile as an athlete," Ackley continued. "It wasn't a surprise to me when they offered, and it wasn't a surprise when he committed. West Virginia has the reputation of taking guys and making sure they get the most out of their profile and skill set, so it made a lot of sense for him. Immokalee is a microcosm of Morgantown in a lot of ways – it's a small town that is football crazy and that has a lot of support for the team. We know what type of school West Virginia is, and that's another reason it's a great fit for him."

Like many smaller players, Marcellus didn't get offers from some schools simply because he doesn't possess imposing physical size. Florida State recruited him, but other Florida big schools did not because of his lack of height. However, West Virginia, which has smaller stars dotted across its roster, has never been fazed by that supposed shortcoming.

One of the key factors in Marcellus' recruitment was assistant coach Erik Slaughter, who showed early interest and focused on Marcellus' abilities.

"Coach Slaughter did a great job of recruiting him," Ackley said. "A lot of college coaches are like used car salesmen. You don't know who to trust and who not to. Coach Slaughter seems very real. Our kids have the sense of being able to pick up who is real and who isn't, and they trust him. He says what he means and is honest. He doesn't make promises to play or anything like that. He just says you need to come in and work hard. He has always been upfront and honest, and we appreciate that."

Off the field, Ackley notes that the ebullient youngster with the "million dollar smile" is liked by teammates and classmates alike, and not just for his football achievements. However, it's those skills that make him a prized "get" for the Mountaineer program.

"He's a very dynamic player," Ackley summed up. "He can score a touchdown anytime he touches the ball. We play in a very competitive league, and I think that has prepared him to play football at a high level."

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