Ask Nick Marshall if he prefers to play quarterback or defensive back and he hesitates a moment.
One can forgive him for the delay since he’s so darn good at both of them.
“Right now since I’ve been working on defence I like defence better,” he said in his thick southern accent. “But then again I like having the ball in my hands.”
Marshall has spent the majority of his football career switching back and forth from cornerback to quarterback.
In high school, he played quarterback, but he flipped to cornerback at the University of Georgia, but the offence came calling again and he earned the starting position at Auburn.
With Marshall’s help, the college turned around its program eventually leading his team to a national championship in 2014. That season he threw for 2,532 yards, 20 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He also rushed for an additional 800 yards and 11 touchdowns.
After that Marshall decided to enter the NFL draft but didn’t think he stood a chance at getting drafted at that position.
“So I took it upon myself to switch over to defensive back and like I said I’m an athlete so that’s where I felt was my best fit,” Marshall said.
And that’s where he’s fitting in right now with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Head coach Chris Jones has liked what he’s seen so far.
“He certainly touches a lot of footballs, he catches a lot of footballs and it’s not very often that his guy is open. We play man coverage so that’s really the telltale sign of how great a player you are,” Jones said on Friday.
However the lessons Marshall learned as a starting quarterback are never far away. He said even in his role in the secondary his time as a quarterback has really come in handy.
“(It’s given me) my instincts about how receivers line up and that I already (know) their intentions about what they want to run. I’d say it gives me a little advantage on the defensive side of the ball.”
Marshall has also been given some direction by one of the Roughriders best veterans. Ed Gainey has been seen giving Marshall tips all week and he’s very thankful for it.
“He’s kind of taken me under his wing, just showing me the ropes about how everything’s going. It’s nice to have a vet around to show you the ropes.”
“(The CFL’s) very challenging because of the motion,” Marshall continued. “It’s a passing league. Me coming from the U.S. — everything is stationary but these last couple of days everything has settled down. I’m not thinking as much as I did when I first got here. Everything’s starting to slow down,” Marshall said.
And if it doesn’t work out in the secondary — Marshall could always give quarterbacking another shot.
He did, after all, get a few reps in at training camp already.
“When I took those couple snaps it just reminded me of my college days and then just getting back in the routine of everything but it just felt great to be back behind those guys, the offensive lineman.”
“I’ll just wait to see what they have in store for me.”
- The pace of practice seemed to drop on day six of training camp and Jones was less than thrilled by it. “I thought it was probably the flattest day that we’ve had and we’ve got to find a way to show up every single day.” In particular, Jones was not pleased with the effort put in by his defence.
- Jordan Williams-Lambert continues to stand out amongst the new receivers at camp, but Shaq Evans made a pretty impressive leaping snag and Regina’s Mitch Picton also caught a touchdown in the corner of the end zone from David Watford.
- Jones wouldn’t say what his quarterback rotation would look like on Sunday, preferring to wait until the depth chart comes out on Saturday morning. He did hint all week, however, that it’ll be more new players on display than veterans. Some vets may not even board the plane to Edmonton.