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Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Marshall happy, but not content, at No. 4

By Blair Angulo

An entertaining one-on-one battle took place at The Opening a couple weeks ago when ESPN 300 receiver Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central) faced off against ESPN Junior 300 cornerback Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), one of only five Class of 2015 prospects at the event.

Marshall, who has been on the recruiting scene since his freshman year, won the first two reps with sheer physicality, denying Quick any space by bumping him at the line of scrimmage and batting away the football when it was thrown their way. The other cornerbacks erupted in excitement nearby as Quick walked back to the offensive side with a frustrated look on his face. There aren’t many times when Quick, the nation’s No. 3-rated athlete and No. 32 overall prospect, is overwhelmed, but Marshall was doing just that.

When it was Marshall’s turn to take another rep, Quick made sure to hop in for a chance at redemption. He got it by speeding past Marshall for a catch in the end zone. He added another reception against Marshall shortly thereafter.

Following the session, Quick wondered out loud who CB No. 268 was. He was told it was Marshall.

“Wait, what?” Quick responded. “So he’s a 2015 kid?”

It was an appropriate reaction, if only because it’s a common one. Marshall, nicknamed “Biggie,” is a 6-foot-1, 195-pound cornerback who, at least physically, stands out in a Poly secondary that also includes ESPN 300 athlete John "JuJu" Smith.

Marshall is No. 4 among 2015 cornerbacks in the initial ESPN Junior 300 rankings. He’s the top-rated prospect at his position on the West Coast, but that isn’t enough.

“I want to strive to be the best,” Marshall said. “I feel like I’m one of the best defensive backs out there and, being No. 4, I feel like there’s something there for me to strive for and get better for. I’m trying to get to that No. 1 spot.”

Marshall, who grew up a USC fan, saw his list of scholarship offers grow to nearly 20 this past spring after coaches got their hands on his sophomore highlight tape. The Trojans called in early April, extending an offer to arguably the most coveted local recruit in the 2015 class.

The Marshall-Smith pairing on defense helped Poly to a CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division championship and an appearance in the state bowl game. A year older and wiser, Marshall hopes to keep progressing like he has been since his days in the local youth leagues, though there are underlying concerns that he eventually could outgrow the cornerback position. Marshall also has played safety at Poly and in the 7-on-7 passing league circuit with B2G Five Star, alongside ESPN Junior 300 member Marvell Tell (Encino, Calif./Crespi), the No. 3-rated safety in the 2015 class.

“I’m a corner,” Marshall said. “The game now features bigger corners, because receivers are getting bigger and faster. Defenses need the same thing and need corners that can play the same balls in the air. I would like to play corner in college.”

The growth spurt hasn’t hindered his skill set, which Marshall again displayed recently at the Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison “Battle at the Beach” tournament. He thrives on lining up against the best.

“It brings out the best of my abilities,” Marshall said.

But when it comes to Marshall’s future position, perhaps Quick put it best.

“I got him a couple times,” Quick said with a smirk. “But, yeah, he can play.”