Even though the scoreboard showed his team on the losing end of a 43-39 game, Middletown quarterback Jalin Marshall showed exactly why he is a five-star prospect. The highest-ranked 2013 player in Ohio left no doubt why he is listed at the top, and showed he is even better as a senior than he was last year.
BY THE NUMBERS: For the game, Marshall rushed 23 times for 322 yards and scored three touchdowns. He threw 13 passes, completing six, for another 87 yards and one touchdown. Marshall had three scoring runs of over 60 yards, and all three were spectacular efforts.
PHYSICAL SKILLS: Basically a continuation and an updated version of what we have seen for three years. He has speed to burn, and it's the best kind of speed to have: Football Speed. This is not a track guy, and truth be told he probably isn't a 4.4 speedster. But try to catch him on the football field. All he needs is a crack, and he shifts into high gear and leaves people. Marshall also has deceiving strength, and he takes a lot of hits running the triple option attack, but never slows down. He is just as effective late in games as he is in the first quarter. What also sets Marshall apart from other breakaway runners is his amazing balance and ability to change direction instantly at top speed. He is simply a threat to score from anywhere on the field, at any time.
MENTAL SKILLS: As strong as he is physically, he might be as mentally tough as any athlete I've covered in the past decade. Marshall can impose his will in a football game, both on his opponents and on his teammates. He is a leader and a winner, although he is a quiet person by nature. Marshall has the ability to not only do what he does best when the chips are down, but also can improvise on the run and make plays when needed. He is not the greatest passer in Ohio and I don't think running a two-minute offense is one of his strengths, but he took his team 82 yards in less than a minute Friday night passing and running, and nearly pulled out the win. After the game, Marshall stated he knew he was going to drive his team for the winning score, and that was exactly how approached a tough spot. In his mind, there was no doubt he could pull out the win, and even he came up short, Marshall showed the mental toughness to perform when the pressure is great.
INTANGIBLES: Marshall has a trait that many great athletes possess, and several others need to learn. As crushing a loss as the game was, Marshall stood on the field after the game and answered every question with a maturity many professional athletes should envy. His best quote of the night? "I lost the game for us in the end. My teammates played great and I let us down," Marshall stated. Of course this wasn't true, but it's how the truly great athletes view a loss.
THE NEXT LEVEL: There will always be questions about Marshall's position at the next level, and it's tough to project where he will play at Ohio State. Under Urban Meyer, Marshall's position could be scoreboard-changer, or numbers-turner, as the Buckeyes will look to put the football in his hands and let him work his magic. My guess? Marshall plays slot receiver, but they use him in the backfield on toss sweeps and screens. He is just an unconventional talent, and Meyer has shown the ability to lift those types of players to great heights. An offense will need to be very creative to get the most out of Marshall, and it appears the pairing with Urban Meyer will be a perfect match.