Ohio State football: Jalin Marshall matures, catches on at new position

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Jalin Marshall’s head wasn’t right a year ago, and it wasn’t just because of the concussion he suffered during preseason camp.

That injury short-circuited the Middletown native’s first year at Ohio State. But Marshall now knows that he had plenty of maturing to do.

After redshirting in 2013, he believes he’s ready to make the impact for the Buckeyes that so many have predicted for the former five-star recruit.

“I feel like I’ve grown up as a person and a player,” Marshall said on Sunday during media day. “I’ve matured. I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made in the past, and I’m ready to go.”

Marshall is competing with Dontre Wilson at the hybrid back spot. Though Wilson is considered to have the edge, the Buckeyes have a role planned for Marshall.

“I don’t know if he’s the starter — he certainly could be — but he’s going to play,” Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith said. “It’s a matter of how much — and how much he touches the ball.”

Marshall played quarterback at Middletown, so there figured to be a transition period as he switched positions for the Buckeyes. The concussion impeded that transition, and he acknowledged becoming discouraged. Factor in the typical bumps that stem from leaving home for the first time, and it was a rough first year.

“I was being mentally weak,” he said. “I didn’t embrace everything the way I should have. I went to a bad place, and I feel like I’m matured now. I was very down, but I have a great family. They picked me up and kept me going.”

Marshall impressed early during spring practice, but then he suffered a knee injury and needed meniscus surgery. That only temporarily slowed his progress.

“It’s not fair, but injuries happen,” Marshall said. “I feel like I’ve come back strong. I’m 100 percent. I’m full go, full throttle and ready to go.”

Smith said that there’s a “night and day” difference between the current Marshall and the guy he was last year.

“He’s not even the same player,” Smith said. “Last year he had a little transition going from quarterback to receiver, was a little immature, a freshman who got away from home and didn’t know how to act like a pro.

“This year, completely opposite end of the spectrum. He treats this like it is his career, it is his life.”

Smith said that Marshall pretty much lives at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“He is working out, he is working on his skills, working on the JUGS (ball machine), is in the meeting room watching film. I’ll go in my office and he’ll just be sitting there. He’s a completely different kid.”

Marshall needed to be because competition for playing time will be intense now that Ohio State has depth at the hybrid and receiver positions. But while he and Wilson may be battling it out on the field, that’s where it ends.

“Me and Dontre are really, really close,” Marshall said. “That’s like my brother. He’s my roommate. We both came in (to Ohio State) not being a receiver (Wilson was a running back in high school) so we both have to help each other out.

“Even though it is a competition, I feel we’re both going to play and we’re both going to make plays for the team.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch

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