Draft Exclusive: Connected Corner

The Packers need to add some young talent to their defensive backfield and they've been on the trail of this Day 2 talent. This off-the-beaten path player has been compared to Al Harris but enjoys watching Charles Woodson.

Cornerback Curtis Marsh has the size and the talent that could entice the Green Bay Packers in next month's NFL Draft.

He also has some Packers connections.

Marsh played at Utah State. John Rushing coached defensive backs at Utah State for six seasons until Packers coach Mike McCarthy hired him as offensive quality control coach in February 2009. Last month, Rushing was promoted to assistant wide receivers/assistant special teams coach.

"Coach Rush was the corners coach at Utah State my first two years there. We're cool," Marsh told Packer Report at the Scouting Combine. "Jarrett (Bush) played before I got here but he comes back in the summer and we're cool, too."

Marsh (6-foot, 194 pounds), whose father played receiver for three seasons for Jacksonville as a seventh-round pick in 1995, practically came out of nowhere to become one of the top cornerback prospects in the draft. Now, he's a possibility to be drafted as early as the second round by Green Bay, which interviewed Marsh at the Senior Bowl and talked to him informally at the Scouting Combine, according to a source.

An all-county selection as a running back while growing up Simi Valley, Calif., Marsh was recruited by the likes of Nevada, Fresno State and Oregon but got all of one scholarship offer: to the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I. — the school the Naval Academy uses to groom its recruits since it's not allowed to redshirt its incoming players. That meant shaving his head daily and wearing a uniform to class.

"If I wasn't a football player, I would have ended up staying because it's a tremendous opportunity," Marsh said. "I really enjoyed the things there but my goals were to get to the NFL."

Utah State helped him get to that goal, but not immediately. He started six games as a running back as a freshman and sophomore before being moved to cornerback as a junior after the Aggies had graduated three starting defensive backs.

"I saw it as a new challenge and a new opportunity for me to take my football game to another level," Marsh said.

By the end of spring practice, Marsh said he felt at home at his new position. He started four games as a junior before a standout senior season. He finished sixth in the nation with 1.25 passes defensed per game and added two interceptions. His breakout performance came against Boise State, in which he dominated individual matchups against top draft prospects Titus Young and Austin Pettis.

Marsh said his running back background shows in how he plays defense. He wasn't afraid to take a hit carrying the ball, and he's not afraid to deliver a hit on defense.

"I feel like I'm real aggressive at the line in press (coverage)," he said. "I'm not afraid to tackle, come up and fill on the run. And it helps me when I was doing kick returns and get interceptions and run with the ball afterwards."

Marsh's physical attributes and playing style remind some observers of former Packers cornerback Al Harris. Personally, Marsh likes to watch Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson.

"I just like the way he just makes plays," Marsh said of Woodson. "He's a playmaker, just getting his hands on balls and running after interceptions. That's part of his game that I want to take into my game."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.

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