It’s been a while since Keith Marshall was a popular name to talk about.
But coming off of his 4.31–second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in February – which was the top time there – he’s suddenly earned the kind of buzz he used to receive as one of the most sought-after running backs in the country out of high school.
It’s been a long road for Marshall, who came to Georgia in 2012 with a ton of hype. He ended up sharing time with Todd Gurley as a freshman, seriously injured as a sophomore, unable to recover as a junior and as a third-stringer for the majority of his senior season.
It wasn’t the road Marshall envisioned. But after his right knee, which suffered a torn ACL in 2013, checked out medically at the NFL combine, he now he has a chance to return to the preferred path he had from the start.
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"I believe I can be an every-down back," Marshall said. "I’m explosive and can create big plays. I can do whatever they ask me to do."
The questions Marshall needed to answer during Wednesday’s pro day at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall involved his lateral movement. Heading into the combine, Marshall worked primarily on straight-line speed and strength. That would explain why he ran such a stellar 40 time, along with posting 25 reps of 225 pounds, which was a combine-best for tailbacks. He didn't do any agility work and skipped those drills.
At Georgia's pro day, Marshall skipped the 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump and bench press, and elected only to do the 3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle. Marshall said that the immediate feedback he got from NFL coaches came back positive.
"They told me I had a good day," Marshall said.
Marshall said he's recently been compared to former Georgia running back Terrell Davis, most likely because of injuries that hampered both of them in college. Davis, of course, went on to have a great career with the Denver Broncos, winning two Super Bowls and earning the AP Offensive Player of the Year Award twice.
Marshall is still considered a day-three prospect but could move into the fourth round. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper recently said that Marshall could be a fifth-rounder, which would be a good value for a lot of teams based on his recent rise.
"When he’s healthy he’s a good football player, and he’s a good back," Kiper said. "I think as a (No.) 2, 3, in terms of most teams, he’s not going to be your feature guy but he’s going to be an asset piece. He could be a good one. He could go now in the fifth round area where these running backs always drop."
Marshall has dropped from a playing weight of 230 pounds to 218 since the season ended. He admitted that he wasn’t the same back at the heavier weight, even though he didn’t feel a drop-off of speed with the added pounds.
By running the fastest time at the NFL combine, Marshall will soon receive a $50,000 check from Adidas as a reward. While his 40 time opened up a lot of eyes, Marshall said he knew he could still run a blazing time such as the 4.31 he put up.
"I don’t want to sound cocky but I knew I could do that," Marshall said. "I didn’t go around telling people that. That’s just something you go show people."