Last Wednesday, I watched the Greater Miami Conference Track prelims at Mason High School. Also on Wednesday, as most conference meets go, some of the field event finals were held. This was my first chance to see O-State bound Jalin Marshall. After his long jump competition was over, I talked with him a few moments.
As with almost everyone who evaluates high school football players, there are just certain high school players whom you grow to respect. Jalin is one of those guys for me. I respect him and everything he stands for.
First watched him his sophomore year at Middletown. First game of the year and Jalin was working the spread offense. He ran, dodged, and found the endzone more than once. Although he did not have the Braxton Miller arm strength (and still does not), I thought he threw well enough to make defenders honest. But he had the "wiggle," and he could "Wow" you. He had the "it" factor.
With a new head coach and a new offensive scheme, Jalin came up under center his next two years. Watched him last year against St Xavier in his first game of the season. He almost single-handedly beat St X. Long runs. Explosiveness. Hips. Great determination. Middletown lost, but Jalin was still Jalin to me.
As with some high profile propects, too many people were tugging at him. Too much noise! Some close to home and some distant. As usual, most of the noise was useless and not needed. But I fear that he got caught up in the "bad side of football recruiting." Already committed to play at Ohio State University, maybe the "noise" worked on him. Just a guess, but he may have gotten caught up in the media hype.
When I first watched him last Wednesday, I was afraid my guess might have been for real. He had the "Tiger Woods" look. No smile. No communication with anyone. The bad dude swagger. I talked to him briefly before he competed. I sensed that I was another "noise." Bad for me. After competiton, I waved good-bye and wished him well, because he was using his cell. Most impressive- Everytime he talked with his coach, all business, and listened to his coach.
I forgot to mention that Jalin is the defending state champion in the long jump. His first jump last Wednesday was just over 23 feet. Big time jump. He won the event.
As I was watching the sprints, Jalin walked over and we talked for awhile. Some of the "stuff" is between Jalin and me. He talked about Ohio State wanting him to play the H-back position. Even though he was a second team all conference basketball player, he worked out 4 days a week and that is evident. Bigger and stronger. Guessing 5'11-205. Needs to get a little faster, but he should. But long jumping consistently in the 22's is pretty good for his size!!
When I asked him about not leaving early at semester, his answer was impressive. "Just had a lot of things that I want to do and to finish at Middletown. Enjoy and high and sports." Jalin is not one of those guys who should have left early. Now, hopefully, he can defend his state champion long jump title.
As we parted, he acted kind of surprised when I told him that he was my number one recruit in the Ohio Class of 2014. Also surprised him, when I said that he potentially was a better passer than people give him credit. If you check Urban Meyer's record he likes QB's to be 6'2 or 6'3 and be a better runner than passer. Jalin will not line at QB at O-State. As of now, he will line up in the slot and catch, block, and run. That he will do well. He still has the "it."
Once again, in this case, Ohio State recruits Ohio State. He told me that he never really considered any other schools.
By the end of the conversation Jalin was grinning and laughing. But I guess Tiger does that once in a while. Ohio State fans will like Jalin Marshall.