- Terry Blount, ESPN Staff Writer
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RENTON, Wash. -- As UCLA defensive end Cassius Marsh drove up to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center for the first time, he knew just how fortunate he was to get drafted by the Seahawks.
“It kind of hit me when I rolled up on the facility,” Marsh said. “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life. I mean, we practice next to a lake [the eastern banks of Lake Washington]. That’s unbelievable. And the facility looks like a little city. I love it here.
“Everybody here from the coaches down to the guys in the café are just awesome. I feel at home. I have to leave to go back to school [UCLA is on a quarter system], but I can’t wait to get back here. I love Seattle, the little bit I’ve seen of it. It’s a beautiful place. It’s so green and I love the water. Now I get to see it every day. It’s good for me.”
Marsh, a fourth-round draft pick, looks like he could be good for the Seahawks. He’s been the most impressive player on the defensive side of the ball in the first two days of rookie minicamp.
There’s no actual tackling (the players are in helmets and shorts), but Marsh clearly would have had at least two sacks Saturday, along with a couple of stops in the backfield on running plays.
“To get drafted by the world champs is so special to me,” Marsh said. “They know I’m a versatile player and can play from multiple positions -- defensive end, rush from the 3 [technique spot inside], play all over the place. I’m just coming here to compete and learn from the guys. There are a lot of really special players here.”
One of those special players that Marsh knows best is defensive end Michael Bennett.
“I love his game,” Marsh said of Bennett. “It’s like an advanced version of mine, I’d like to think. He’s very powerful, extremely quick and great with his hands. He’s a relentless player.”
Marsh also is overjoyed at the chance to play for coach Pete Carroll. Marsh is from Simi Valley, California, and planned to play for Southern Cal, but opted for UCLA after he learned that Carroll was leaving USC.
“Coach Carroll is awesome,” Marsh said. “He really loves his guys. He makes you really want to perform for him and give your all for the team and for him. You don’t want to let him down because he does so much for you.”
Marsh, who doesn’t turn 22 until July 7, wants to do all he can for the Seahawks, starting with gaining 20 pounds on his 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame. He has played at close to 300 pounds in the past.
“I do need to gain weight,” Marsh said. “But I’m going to do it the right way and get with the nutritionist and strength coach to do the things I need to do. I don’t have any deadline for any certain weight. I’ll just work hard.”
That could include a little work on offense. Marsh played some tight end at UCLA and caught two touchdown passes in his career with the Bruins. Carroll said earlier they might give Marsh a look as a H-back on a play or two.
“I would love to do it,’’ Marsh said. “There’s nothing like getting a sack, but a touchdown [catch] is like a 1-B, so that would be awesome.”