Commentary

Three trips set for Keith Marshall

Nation's No. 1 RB to visit ND, Georgia and Florida; Guillermo is Clemson's top recruiter

Originally Published: September 1, 2011
By Dave Hooker | ESPN Recruiting

Keith Marshall doesn't see himself as an every-down back, not yet anyway.

Perhaps more of a scat back now, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound recruit from Raleigh (N.C.) Millbrook is one of the more intriguing tailbacks in the nation. In college, it's easy to envision Marshall, who has run a 10.44 in the 100-meter dash, continuing to rely on his speed as he often does in high school.

However, there's a reason the five-star prospect is considered the top running back in the nation. Much of his ranking centers around his potential to be more than just an offense's change-of-pace runner.

[+] EnlargeKeith Marshall
Andrew Craft/ESPNHS MagazineKeith Marshall has kept Georgia high on his list throughout the recruiting process.

Admittedly, Marshall isn't sure he'll be a 25-carry-per-game tailback as a freshman. But just give him some time.

"I think I can grow into one once I get into college," he said.

He's looked the part in his first two games this season, rushing for 246 yards despite playing less than seven quarters in the first two contests.

College recruiters have seen enough, as evidenced by his dozens of scholarship offers. Some schools are finally beginning to separate themselves from the pack, namely Notre Dame, Georgia and Florida, which have secured Marshall's first three visit dates.

The trip to Notre Dame on Oct. 21 could prove to be a turning point if the Marshall family becomes as enamored with the football program as they already are with its academic reputation.

"They're great academically," Marshall said. "We haven't gotten a chance to get up there but we've been wanting to visit."

While Notre Dame might pull at Marshall's intellect, Georgia, where he'll visit Sept. 9, pulls at his heartstrings.

"I've liked Georgia since I was a little kid," Marshall said. "Since I started getting recruited by them, I like Coach [Mark] Richt a lot and the rest of the staff. I like the town. I have family real close to Atlanta."

Florida has more of a football pull -- if the Gators' offense can deliver on what they've promised.

"[Offensive coordinator Charlie] Weis and Coach [Will] Muschamp, they're bringing in a pro-style offense," said Marshall, who added he's quite fond of Gainesville. "I'm anxious to see them this year. They told me to watch how they use [running backs] Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps and they can use me that same way."

Marshall intends to do plenty more traveling. He said he'll choose between Florida State, Alabama, Virginia Tech and Southern California for his fourth and fifth official visit. He said he'll also take unofficial visits to nearby South Carolina and North Carolina.

North Carolina is just a 20-minute drive from Marshall's home but proximity might not overcome the Tar Heels' coaching change and NCAA investigation.

"I know eventually they'll get through it but I want to see … how it all works out," Marshall said.

Center of recruitment

Maryville (Tenn.) High is now 2-0 after a 26-19 win over rival Alcoa last week. While Maryville's starting center Jay Guillermo is focused on securing another state title for the Rebels, he's also trying to recruit some high-level talent to face in practice at Clemson, a school he's been firmly committed to for months.

"Clemson is almost set for the guys they want, but I've talked to some defensive tackles," said Guillermo, who is ranked as the nation's best center.

Eddie Goldman, No. 2 overall, has been at the top of the list, but Guillermo, like reporters and recruiters, has found that the defensive tackle from Washington (D.C.) Friendship is tough to get on the phone. Facebook has been the primary method of contact.

Not being overbearing is key.

"I don't really want to bug him; it's in season," Guillermo said. "That would kind of annoy me a little bit."

Guillermo
jayguillermofootball.comJay Guillermo committed early to Clemson, where he already has built a bond with new offensive lline coach Robbie Caldwell.

Yet it's obvious to Guillermo that Goldman, who is the nation's best defensive tackle prospect, is a high-priority target for the Tigers.

"Oh yes," Guillermo said. "They want him bad but who doesn't want him bad? He's a good player. That's the main reason why I've tried to talk to him. I've seen his game film and he's a great player. That's the kind of guy I want to play with at Clemson."

Guillermo, who is originally from North Carolina, has also reached out to defensive tackle Carlos Watkins from Forest City (N.C.) Chase.

"We might be able to get him," Guillermo said. "He's very interested in Clemson from what I've seen."

The speculation swirling around Carlos Watkins is centered around him choosing Florida, especially after the Gators pulled back on defensive tackle Jordan Watkins from College Park (Ga.) Woodward last week.

"He's mentioned Florida but I don't know," Guillermo said of Carlos Watkins. "Maybe he just doesn't want to put everything out there? I've gotten a sense he's really interested in Clemson from what he's told me."

Aside from occasionally acting as a Clemson recruiter, Guillermo has to worry about himself. He recently suffered an ankle injury in a preseason camp. He feared he broke a bone before he was able to steady himself and walk. The injury was diagnosed as a high ankle sprain and a strained Achilles tendon.

Fortunately for Clemson, it shouldn't affect his ability to recruit.

Road warriors

There will be plenty of top prospects in the I-95 Classic, which runs Sept. 1-3. Here is a look at some of the best games and prospects worth watching:

Baltimore (Md.) Mt. St. Joseph vs. Washington (D.C.) Friendship
Goldman is rated the second best overall prospect in the country. Fellow senior Albert Reid plays tailback and safety and is committed to West Virginia. Sophomore cornerback Jalen Tabor has already picked up a hefty share of college interest. Mt. St. Joseph features senior athlete Angelo DeShields, who is committed to Stony Brook.

Washington (D.C.) St. John's vs. Towson (Md.) Calvert Hall
St. John's showcases linebacker Devin Williams, who is committed to Stanford, and several other Division I prospects. Calvert Hall has two West Virginia commitments on its roster: receiver Trevor Williams and defensive back Da'Quan Davis. Calvert Hall also has several senior prospects with scholarship offers from smaller schools.

Baltimore (Md.) Gilman vs. Virginia Beach (Va.) Oscar Smith
Gilman has four seniors with scholarship offers, led by athlete Cyrus Jones, who is evaluating many schools. Offensive lineman Brian Gaia is committed to Penn State. Linebacker Devon Porchia is committed to Pittsburgh. Running back Kenneth Goins has offers from many schools. Gilman also has several juniors who are college prospects, including defensive tackle Henry Poggi and linebacker Micah Kiser. Both have multiple BCS scholarship offers. Oscar Smith tailback J.C. Coleman is committed to Virginia Tech. Several players from the 2012 and 2013 class have received strong college interest.

Westlake vs. Ijamsville (Md.) Urbana
Westlake defensive back Michael Westray is committed to Duke, choosing the Blue Devils over NC State. Urbana has several prospects who have received lower-level college interest and are looking to up their stock.

Baltimore (Md.) Dunbar vs. Washington (D.C.) Dunbar
The Dunbar from Maryland will showcase receiver Deontay McManus, who is committed to West Virginia, and several other lower-level prospects in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 classes. Likewise, Dunbar of D.C. has several prospects with lower-level college offers looking to improve their stock. However, junior offensive tackle Derwin Gray is the exception. He already has multiple BCS offers.

Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for more than a decade. Email him at davehookerespn@gmail.com.

Dave Hooker

Reporter, RecruitingNation