Florham Park, N.J. - It's the last day of mini camp and the players head into a five-week break before going full swing into training camp. Heading into July, the New York Jets have plenty of depth at the wide receiver position, a spot where they struggled to fill last year. At the end of mini camp, the Jets have 12 receivers on contract, with an additional one getting a tryout. By September, half those lockers will be cleaned out. One player that is giving the coaches a reason to think he should stay is Jalin Marshall.
Marshall wasn't always a wide receiver. In high school, he was a highly touted dual-threat quarterback. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer saw something in him, and transitioned him into a WR/H-back. After redshirting in 2013, Marshall came onto the scene in 2014 during the Ohio State championship run. He earned Freshman All-America honors and followed that up with Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in his sophomore campaign. In total, Marshall had 13 career touchdowns and 1,905 all-purpose yards, 754 of those yards coming on special teams.
Some say Marshall left college too early, as seen with him going undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft. He seems to proving the nay-sayers wrong with his play during OTAs and mini camp. "He's a fast learner and he's a dynamic athlete," wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell said about the rookie. "He's something that's intriguing for us and we're hoping that's going to be a spark plug."
Throughout the past couple weeks, Marshall has been looking better and better. His routes are neat, he's hustling, he's making great catches and plays. When his number is called, Marshall does the best of his ability to show the coaches something, as he got some work with the first-team a couple times. "I think Jalin's done really well with the opportunities he's gotten," Bryce Petty said.
What might also help Marshall develop is the fact he is able to practice and play alongside Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Brandon Marshall and Decker not only have years of experience under their belts, but they also are familiar with the offense, having played in it last year. "It's an honor being able to play next to [Brandon and Eric]," Jalin Marshall said. "You can listen to those guys because they've been there; they've done it all."
These next five weeks are vital for players such as Jalin, fighting for a job on the roster. He'll be spending this time keeping his turn direction and footwork crisp. Jalin will also be working heavily on his special team, catching "as many punts as I can just because when I come back, I don't drop anything and I can solidify a role on the team."
In college, Jalin returned 52 punts, one to the house, and three kick returns. He understands the importance and the spark that special teams can bring to a game.
"Special teams is a big key for me and a big key to help this team win."