2014 Recruiting: Lawrence Marshall Comment Count

Brian July 18th, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone.

Southfield, MI – 6'4", 245


Scout 4*, #104 overall
#12 DE, #4 MI
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#22 WDE, #7 MI
ESPN 4*, #121 overall
#13 DE, #4 MI
24/7 4*, #221 overall
#11 WDE, #4 MI
Other Suitors OSU, MSU, Neb, Oklahoma, Tenn, Florida
YMRMFSPA Taco Charlton/Frank Clark
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post.
Notes Twitter.


Senior highlights:

Via Maize and Blue News, single-game highlights of Marshall vs Farmington:

Despite twice fulfilling a lifelong dream to play for a prestigious football program, Lawrence Marshall had a rough, rough year. His father died from complications from diabetes; his grandfather followed a couple months later with heart issues. A few days after that, Marshall was on the field for Southfield, eye-black stickers under his eyes reading RIP.

Marshall soldiered on, and so will we. But, you know, keep it in mind.


About that "twice" bit in the previous paragraph: Marshall had one of the weirder recruitments in this class, as he leapt at an Ohio State offer on an early visit. That turned out to be a rather impulsive decision that he retracted a couple days after it happened; after opening up his recruitment he visited various places and eventually re-pulled the trigger in favor of Michigan, but not before picking up a number of impressive out-of-region offers, as listed above.

Those offers came because Marshall provides a physical package that promises an explosive edge rusher once he can fill out his frame. He'd already fielded Michigan and Michigan State offers by early in his junior year, when he was a relatively spindly 6'4", 205, because he can get in the backfield:

Marshall still has a lean frame, but he does not have issues with strength at the point of attack. He does a great job creating upfield momentum, which all starts with his explosive first step. Marshall comes off the line hard and low, and puts an exclamation point on his sacks by being a heavy hitter.


… an explosive weak-side defensive end that can really get after the quarterback. He has a quick first step and can close very well. Marshall shows great snap awareness, allowing him to get a jump on the opposing offensive tackle.

Marshall did not quite pull a Bryan Mone (MEEEEAAAAAAT), but he's filled out his frame relatively quickly. By the end of his senior season of high school he was 225; he told Mike Spath he was 240 at the Offense-Defense Bowl, the world's worst-named all star event; he's listed at 245 on Michigan's tentative roster. This process has apparently not damaged his quickness one bit. Marshall on Marshall:

"I didn't miss a step. Everything that I had before, I still had, but then my punches got stronger. I could feel myself beating the offensive linemen with better moves, with more power. And I think I actually got faster too because I added some explosion at the snap."

As the blockquotes below indicate, that is a consensus view.

Athleticism is Marshall's calling card, with everything else trailing behind. Trieu makes the case for:

Very long frame. Has great athleticism, change of direction and speed in pursuit. Has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher, just needs continued work on his technique. …Has to add some weight, but all of the raw tools are there.

Raw. Tools.

While the rankings above are nearly identical to Bryan Mone's—three sites around the 100 mark and Rivals shrugging—in this case Rivals has made its case thanks to the local reporters. Sullivan seemingly carpooled with Marshall to his games this year, and pointed out that while he's got upside he has trouble getting off blocks:

If his speed rush on the edge doesn't find home (and it only did on a couple occasions in this game), his counter moves are limited. … Most of Marshall's flaws are technique-related, and have little to do with his athletic ability (as is expected with someone in just his second year of varsity ball). In addition to limited use of his hands to fight off the blocker - which he did improve over the course of the game - he stands straight up on the snap too often, which is telegraphed by his stance.

Josh Helmholdt took in the Cass-Southfield opener:

He is best when he can line up outside at a seven- or nine-technique and use his speed to run by offensive tackles. He did that for a first-half sack and was tracking ball carriers to the other side of the field with his speed. Marshall has trouble releasing from offensive linemen once they get their hands on him. He shows flashes of explosive, athletic playmaking ability, but he needs to develop consistency to be an every-down defensive end at the college level.

That criticism was echoed by 247 after Lorenz attended the opener:

still has difficulty disengaging blocks at points, but was very impressive physically and did not look even the slightest bit slower after putting on about 30 pounds since this time last season. He never quits on a play, and made a couple backside pursuit tackles that may have prevented Cass Tech touchdowns. He looked great.

Great is in the eye of the beholder, as always. As an athlete with potential develop, he looked great. As a technician, not so much. FWIW, ESPN's evaluation is surprisingly muted for a guy they have just outside their top 100, heavy on "flashes" and "can"; with a prospect like Marshall who adds a bunch of weight and improves a lot ESPN's fire and forget ratings and evals are ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

The good news in that department is that Marshall's senior year saw him develop quite a bit as a footbaw player. Allen Trieu:

…more of a potential guy as a junior but he really put it together as a senior. He turned a great final season. He added weight and strength and now looks like a kid who could come in and contribute early. He's active and plays with a great motor. He still has to work on his technique, but all the physical tools are there and he improved by leaps and bounds from what was an already good junior year.

247 took another look at him towards the end of 2013, nothing that he's "already shown great improvement" and is "bigger, faster, stronger, and nastier":

shows an even quicker first step and has improved his pass rush moves and technique. Marshall looks more comfortable in his stance and has a larger repertoire of moves. He has an elite swim move to get past the offensive tackle and can close on the quarterback in a flash. … Marshall has significant untapped potential and is an ascending talent whose best football is ahead of him.

You get a cookie if you can predict the next sentence. 247 lists pad level as an area to improve. They also mention that he "shows" violent hands but only erratically.

Meanwhile, Sullivan was impressed with his consistent improvement:

He defeated a couple blockers on the edge, and was much more disciplined in keeping contain than he was early in this season. His strength was overwhelming for Lathrup's right tackle, and is one area of his game that he has been developing as well. When he hits, the opponent is sure to feel it, and he had one particularly violent tackle along the sideline early in the game.

By late in the season he was suggesting that he was "likely" to get the fourth star over-eager message boarders had been badgering him about for six months despite the fact that he has no hand in the rankings; this was a departure from his previous stance that Marshall was ranked where he deserved to be and is probably more meaningful than the fact that he did not actually get that star.

By the time the O/D Bowl came around, Marshall was actually drafted to play DT(!) because of his increased size and power, and it was not a disaster.

Marshall looked comfortable and capable of taking on double teams by the center and guard, over powering them or standing his ground on nearly every rep. When it came time to showcase his athleticism, Marshall again didn't disappoint, able to blow by some of the stiff guards looking to slow him down and get directly to the running back in the back field.

The competition level there is a considerable step down from the UA and Army games, for what it's worth.

Etc.: His troll job is a little less awesome after the events of last year, but A for effort.

Why Taco Charlton? Both WDEs with NFL potential who were dogged by assertions that they were not any good at football as juniors who had breakout senior years. Those breakout years still found a number of skeptics about how far away from that hypothetical ceiling they were, and not without cause. Ranked in approximately the same fashion as well.

I know this isn't a comparison that really tells you much since Charlton has not established who he is as a player, so Frank Clark is another option. Clark came in a safety-sized DE and took a long time to turn his athleticism into enough DE-type footbaw knowledge.

Guru Reliability: High. Well-scouted, healthy player. Variance in rankings actually a reasonable reflection of his status as something of a boom-or-bust player.

Variance: High-minus. Still needs some weight and still needs a lot of technique work. If that 245 is accurate, though, he's put a lot of size concerns to bed. He'd already be five pounds away from where Ojemudia is without the benefit of a college S&C program.

Ceiling: High-minus. Doesn't have crazy blow-you-away athleticism or size, but he is probably an A- in those categories.

General Excitement Level: High-minus. Wish he was further along but the quick improvement suggests he's coachable and will get towards his ceiling. Unless, of course, he does not.

Projection: With a number of other WDE types on the roster and a couple linebackers who could put their hand down in pass rush situations, you'd hope Marshall could redshirt. He's probably going to be good, he didn't enroll early, he could use the extra time to get to 260-270, he's raw, and there's a high probability he's not going to be an early NFL entry. If they were still in the under I'd say it's highly probable.

They are not, though, and Taco Charlton has moved over to SDE for at least one year. That leaves Michigan two deep at WDE, a situation which has seen this coaching staff play freshmen consistently. So he'll be in the running for the WHY wasted redshirt of the year as he runs behind Clark and Ojemudia.

Marshall could see serious time as early as next year, depending on if the over sticks. If they go back to being a primarily under team, Charlton probably moves back and he's going to have to fight through a couple guys. If they stick with the over he'll at least be a platoon type with Ojemudia and will have an excellent chance at starting since Ojemudia seems near his physical ceiling and Marshall's got another 20 pounds to add.


marco dane

July 18th, 2014 at 3:50 PM ^

 >Marshall had one of the weirder recruitments in this class, as he leapt at an Ohio State offer on an early visit. That turned out to be a rather impulsive decision that he retracted a couple days after it happened; after opening up his recruitment he visited various places and eventually re-pulled the trigger in favor of Michigan, but not before picking up a number of impressive out-of-region offers, as listed above.<


July 18th, 2014 at 5:54 PM ^

Yes I didn't realize how high of a recruit he was in 3 of the services.  If the Rivals ranking wasn't around he'd be in Dymonte Thomas range overall in the overall rankings and you almost never heard anything about Marshall versus the hype train here about Thomas 15-18 months ago.

Anyhow these services are just that - we'll see what he does on an actual football field in college.  We are in desperate need of game changers at the ends.


July 19th, 2014 at 1:56 AM ^

who has looked the same, thirty-five since his jr. year in h.s. Good news there, I guess, is he'll probably look thirty-five when he's forty-five.  If he is not RSed this year - meaning staff thinks he can contribute on STs and Beamer has taught us all how important it is to get quality players on those teams, then count on Mattison, as well, to start teaching him the game in live situations. He simply does not like having eligible players setting out complete games when not RSed when they could be gaining serious PT. This will pay off big time for quite a few of those type of players that got their feet wet last year and are well past they butterflies that accompany your fist couple of plays against "real" competition.

I'm thinking of a former player that came in his size and never got much bigger.  Don't think he ever went above 240-245 but he was a freak much in the Brandon Graham mold as to those first two or three steps. Don't know what you guys are watching on tape because for some reason tonight my browser is not supporting any videos.  But that happens down here a lot.  But getting back to the player with similar, albeit more "natural size" we'll call it because he basically came in at that weight and stayed there.  He experienced some off field issues that cut his M career short but David Bowens from OLSM, I believe, but almost certain it was one of the school's around Detroit was almost unblockable in the few years he spent here prior to going on to the NFL. The kid was just so damn quick that he'd generate enough speed to mitigate the normal advantage that size might give someone.  He played during the Bo years - damn that sounds odd - that a quarter of a century has gone by since he roamed the sidelines. Given that, both sides of the line were, obviously, smaller. Yes, we had Jumbo Elliot, Greg Skrepanik(spelling way off), Jansen and a few others, but the average OL was about 285-290 whereas today the average is normally above 300 with a few players right around 3 1/2. When a strong, athletic player is coming at you at almost full speed, even with superior size as an OL, you will experience trouble containing this man unless your technique is flawless and you are in complete command of all the tricks needed to negate or at least slow these type of players down. 

With all he has left to learn, after only playing for a couple of years, I would predict a RS, especially given the limited time of some with more experience who will surely see more PT this season both due to need and the fact they've earned it.  As another poster stated, chances of him going to the NFL early are slim so it would not surprise me to see him stick around AA for 5 years and become much more than just a "contributor" his final two, hopefully three seasons.


July 19th, 2014 at 6:53 PM ^

Although I didn't get the years right, I think you'll agree his play was unforgettable. Damn, after looking at the weights you listed and the extra decade with players getting bigger and bigger, his achievements on the field becom even more impressive.

Again, thanks


July 18th, 2014 at 4:49 PM ^

the speed (and size) difference between Marshall and McDowell in those highlights.  With my maize-colored glasses I see a lot more hustle from Marshall, but damn it would've been great to land them both.


July 18th, 2014 at 8:17 PM ^

Lots of people thought that, and are probably right. I don't know if he has elite quick twitchness needed to be a dominating DT, but he has speed when he gets moving. With well above average athleticism at that huge size, OT is probably ideal. But he and his father were adamant that he play defense. I don't think he even played OT for his high school, though I could be wrong


July 18th, 2014 at 8:11 PM ^

You also see the difference in speed. The play that almost goes for a safety, has both starting at this same point, and Marshall runs right by McDowell on the way to the QB. McDowell is at most an SDE, probably a DT, and we need WDEs. He may end up a beast, but he's got work to do - that great height will work against him early, as shorter, heavy-bottomed college guards will blow him out of the play if he stands up that much. And again, Michigan has a lot of talent (at least you rankings-wise)at the DT positions.

Jack Daniels

July 18th, 2014 at 5:50 PM ^

To be honest, when one puts on that much weight in such a short period, I'm always worried about the possible loss of speed and explosion. I think Mone lost a lot, and I think Charlton lost a lot, as well.


July 19th, 2014 at 10:40 AM ^

Was thinking the same yesterday, but what I believe he's referring to is the drop in ratings Mone suffered after the UA practices.  The Rivals guy thought the added weight slowed him down, wouldn't be able to carry more weight in college and be as explosive as he seemed in high school. 

I think the spring game should dissuade any of those concerns. 


July 19th, 2014 at 9:46 PM ^

The spring game was against our own offensive line so it doesn't tell us anything.

Unfortunately I am not even being sarcastic.

Personally I'd like to RS him, get that 320 lbs or whatever it is into more muscle and have a monster hopefully for 4 years after.  We dont necessarily need him now and burning RSs on guys who are probably going to be 3rd string, esp if Pipkins returns seems silly to me. 

Of course if he is our 3rd best DT in fall practice that is a different story but I am hoping we are past the point we are throwing freshman out there due to need rather than ability.


July 20th, 2014 at 3:46 PM ^

Not sarcastic, just overly EMO, such is your admitted wont.  I'm not even referring to his play at physicaly challenging OL, though a lot of that featured him blowing up Kugler or remaining steadfast against Miller/Kalis doubleteams.  Either would be impressive enough regardless of which D1 OL he was going up against. 

I'm talking about his speed to the ball in several plays where he chased, showing surprising quickness and athleticism.  It indicates how he's now carrying his weight.  His pass rush was bland, but the rest of his game was very promising.  It's only a one game sample, I'll give you that, but it's really all we have to go on.  The SB Nation eval, brief as it was, seem the most likely to me: excellent DT, not once-a-decade player (no shame in that). 

The Rivals downgrade was (and initial eval) was against high school competition, so if you in any way put stock into those rankings, you'd have to accept that a showing in the spring game means more than any series of showings against high school competition.  After all, Kalis was at that UA game and kept his 5*.  My belief is he'll certainly play this year, given he'll earn the playing time.  Whoever is best plays in Mattison's system, even if only just a bit better in practice that particular week than another good option.  Besides, a 3rd string guy becomes 2nd string in the event of injury, and a 2nd string guy will certainly play in Mattison's system. I agree though that there's a ton of depth - a lot of it unproven yet - at NT and 3T.