Wilcox County’s Nick Marshall puts his name on the line for Georgia

mlough@macon.comFebruary 3, 2011 

ROCHELLE -- Nick Marshall treated what was perhaps the biggest morning of his life like he has treated just about every other morning: cool, calm and collected.

About three dozen friends, family, coaches and teachers crowded into the Wilcox County Middle School library to watch one of Middle Georgia’s best athletes in several years put his name on the dotted line to play football with the state’s flagship program.

“Everybody in here,” Wilcox County head coach Mark Ledford said, “and it’s the least biggest deal to him.”

Marshall went through the motions at a mid-morning signing ceremony, but he and his mother had already taken care of the paperwork that locked him in with Georgia on National Signing Day.

Georgia had his form only a few minutes after 8 a.m., and his name was on the first list released by the school by 8:40 a.m.

So Marshall, the state’s career leader in touchdown passes thrown, was almost as calm at a table surrounded by family for pictures as he would be at a table by himself.

“It’s been a time I’ve been waiting for a long time,” Marshall said. “Make my family proud.”

Marshall may be joined by his cousin and former teammate Lonnie Outlaw, who signed with Georgia in 2010 but is at Georgia Military College, and is expected to sign again with Georgia in a year if he completes his eligibility at GMC.

Ledford listed Marshall’s remarkable stats, including the one that is of specific interest to Georgia: 13 career interceptions, five returned for touchdowns.

That’s why Georgia secondary coach Scott Lakatos can’t wait to work with the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder.

“Nick Marshall is one of the most amazing athletes that I think we have in this class,” Lakatos said. “He’s a guy, looking at defensive-back wise, I don’t usually get to coach guys like this. He’s very athletic. He’s physical. He’s got good size to him.

“We’re looking forward to lining (him) up at corner, and there might be some things we try to utilize him on the other side of the ball.”

Marshall gives Georgia some options. He’s started at cornerback and safety, has returned kicks -- he took his lone punt try back this season for a touchdown -- as well as set records at quarterback. He decided before committing to Georgia last summer that he wanted to play cornerback in college so he could also play basketball at Georgia, and trying to be a major-college quarterback and play hoops would be too much.

Georgia’s coaches have told him they’ll have packages on offense at quarterback for him, and Ledford wouldn’t be surprised if Marshall lined up somewhere else.

“He’s one that likes to doing different stuff than quarterback; at practice, he’d get out there at wide receiver,” Ledford said, noting a position Marshall got action at as a freshman. “He’s pretty fearless. I think there are a number of positions Nick could play.”

Marshall completed 54.9 percent of his passes for 2,728 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior, his third year as a starter.

The Marshall Era is over for Ledford, but not for Wilcox County. Marshall leads the top-five boys basketball team, which hopes to make a second straight trip to the GHSA Class A Final Four at the Macon Coliseum. Then he’ll increase preparation for his basketball career in Athens.

His mother Latonya put a ball in the hands of sons Nick and Quez Mahagoney early on. She knows the challenge her son will face as a two-sport player in college.

“I do (worry),” she said. “I asked him about it. He thinks he can handle both (basketball and football). As long as he gets his grades, kept up his work and prayed, keep God first, everything’ll work out for him.”

The Telegraph’s Seth Emerson contributed to this story from Athens

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