Coach talks about his versatile ‘sleeper'

While we love bringing you a good portion of high school news and updates, we also want to feature some of the state's top athletes. Today, we feature Houston Nimitz running back Marion Grice. We talked to coach Robert Toomer to get the inside scoop.

Plenty of capable running backs come out of the Greater Houston area each year. While many get in early on the recruiting process and are relatively well know, others end up slipping through almost unnoticed.

There is one back who hit the scene early, but has never been labeled as one of the upper echelon players of the city. That player would be Houston Nimitz athlete Marion Grice. Making his debut with the Cougars back in 2007 (his sophomore season), Grice was primarily a running back, a position Nimitz bases its offense by. And best believed, he excelled.

Now in his senior year, Grice has evolved.

"He (Grice) is our starting punter, our starting middle linebacker and running back. All of these positions are key and shows the amount of pride he has and how important he is to the program," Nimitz coach Robert Toomer said. "He is a guy we know we can use in four or five positions, which shows his versatility. We even lined him up at quarterback some the other game."

According to Toomer, playing the iron man role is all good when you have a player like Grice on the roster. Holding a solid 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame gives Grice the ability to perform many tasks when called upon. 

Aside from all of that, there is no doubting that what he brings to the team is valuable. Even from the leadership standpoint, Grice brings that to the Cougar squad. You may not hear about, but it will clearly be seen in his actions.

"What Grice brings is a physicality, a presence. He's not a talker, but a big, physical guy who takes care of business on the field," Toomer said. "He is a guy who is not going to hurt you in a game, but brings a lot to the table."

With all that is said, one would believe that there would be several colleges trying to get in on him from a recruiting standpoint. True enough there are, but there are a few roadblocks in the way at the moment that have likely slowed down his current recruitment.

Toomer breaks it down.

"When I first got here, there were a few junior colleges like Navarro looking to offer, but with Grice, which is the only negative thing, I had to go back and revamp his (class) schedule because there was some classes that was not going towards the (NCAA) Clearinghouse," Toomer said. "We have him on track right now. The reason that nobody has wanted to step up with an offer is because of his grade situation. 

"But the classes he is taking right now are going to boost his GPA up to where he is going to qualify as a Division I football player."

And Toomer and the other Cougar coaches are confident that that result is in the near future. Classes like Speech, Psychology and Sociology are all part of Grice's curriculum. 

"What is going to happen is that Grice is going to be a sleeper. Whatever schools decides to offer this kid will have one heckuva athlete on their hands," Toomer said. "Lately, Texas A&M and Alabama are both showing a lot of interest. And in this last week, Utah started showing some interest from his performance in the last game."

Grice has well over 500 yards of production to his credit at this point. He has three rushing touchdowns, 10 receptions out of the backfield, and has nearly 100 return yards and touchdown on special teams.

With the collaborative efforts of Grice, Toomer and the other Nimitz coaches, things could start to pick up even more for the Cougar athlete. Then too, prior connections don't hurt either.

"The coach up at Miami-Ohio (Mike Haywood) coached me at LSU. We are talking to coach Haywood and he is evaluating Grice's grades to make sure that every six weeks he is good and continues to improve," Toomer said. "I think if he (Grice) does that (improve grades), coach Haywood would be willing to take that chance on Grice."

Grice and the Nimitz team look to bounce back this week in district play as they take on the undefeated Atascocita team this Friday at Humble ISD Turner Stadium.

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