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July 9, 2012
Freshman focus: K. Marshall
Player: - Keith Marshall
Height/Weight: 5-11, 210
Position: Running back
High School: Millbrook High (Raleigh, N.C.)
Tale of the Tape: Marshall was the nation's second-ranked All-Purpose back coming out of high school according to Rivals.com, and before tweaking his hamstring in spring practice, was showing coaches what all the fuss was about. As a senior, Marshall rushed for 1,891 yards and 25 touchdowns, finishing as the career leader at Millbrook with 4,552 yards and 332 points.
Strengths: You can't talk about Marshall without talking about his speed. He has an elite burst to go with top end speed that few players possess. He does a great job of running to daylight and that burst allows him to exploit seems once he sees them. Marshall can also make quick and precise cuts at full speed, and has a natural ability to use blockers in space. Marshall has excellent vision, and doesn't always try to be the fastest guy on the field. He has shown the ability to be patient and let things develop before kicking into an extra gear. One of the underrated parts of Marshall's game is his strength. At Marshall is 5-11, 210 pounds and very strong. He showed at the Under Armour game that he can deliver the blow to the defender in space. He is an excellent outside runner and can string plays out and make a quick explosive cut into the first available seam for solid yardage. Marshall also has excellent hands that allow him to be a weapon in the passing game, and his attitude and work ethic are a breath of fresh air to the UGA backfield.
Weaknesses: Thus far in his career, Marshall has been injury prone in his lower body. Last year he suffered from knee tendonitis that slowed him down some, and he missed the annual G-Day scrimmage with a hamstring injury. His durability is a question at this point. Marshall also needs experience running between the tackles. He will need to learn how to hit the hole and get touch yardage. While he has the ability to be a physical presence, he will also need to learn how to establish himself as that early in his career. Marshall is also a bit of an upright runner, but doesn't have to be. He isn't a particularly tall running back, and has the ability to run with better body lean. This will allow him to expose himself less to big hits and punishment between the tackles.
Overall: Marshall is a game breaker. Players with his type of speed are rare, and many opposing should be, if they aren't already, holding their breath when he gets the football. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield is a huge weapon for the Georgia offense, and he is the type of player to do whatever the offense needs him to do. He will probably struggle early in pass protection, but he will help in a variety of other ways. He has the ability to run between the tackles, and has the ability to get bigger than he is at present. The big key will be whether or not he can stay healthy. He has never been a work horse type of back, and only time will tell whether he can hold up to 25-30 carries a game in the SEC. If he can, he has the ability to be special. If not, he can still change the game any time he touches the ball.