Arlington Martin High School
NR (at TE): 17 SR: 60 Star Rating: ****
An Inside Texas conversation with Arlington Martin head coach Ronnie Laurence on Josh Marshall:
IT: What are Joshs strengths as a football player?
Laurence: First of all, I think it's his size. He's 6-4, right now 210 or 215, so he's gaining weight and getting bigger. He has great hands. If a ball is close, he's not going to miss it. He's very competitive within himself. He realizes that's his job and that's what he wants. He wants the ball and he will go get it. He makes catching the ball look easy. He is a strong runner, especially in high school, because he's so tall, he's a tough kid to bring down. He's not afraid to be physical. He's not afraid of going up for the ball in a crowd and catching the ball. He has good speed and he can run outrun people once he catches it. He can make the long play.
IT: At his size, is a long strider like a Roy Williams or even a Vince Young?
Laurence: He's a very long strider. He can make five yards in about two steps when he's open running.
IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Josh?
Laurence: I think that they saw a kid that is a good kid, has a good strong family. He's got some bloodlines in that his dad (All-SWC at A&M and NFL DL Charles 'Tank' Marshall) played and accomplished what he accomplished. You recognize his talents, which are size, speed and hands. He's physical on the football field. All these things... The eye test, just to look at a kid, is big for college coaches. They look for big kids. Then after they find one, what can he do? What kind of grades, what kind of character does he have, how do his teachers see him? That was one of the things coach Brown wanted to do yesterday (Jan. 17) was meet his teachers. How did they see Josh? How did his assistant principal see Josh? Had he had any problems? They were looking for character and he has all of that. He has kept himself out of trouble. He has a good work ethic -- he and his dad were up here on Saturday morning throwing after Friday night ball games. At the level he played at this year, he excelled. What I tried to tell him the other day, You're going to go to a level now where everybody is good. Everybody was that hot shot in high school, and the ones that excel at the level he's going to are the ones that work real hard. They're all real gifted athletes, but some of them make it and some of them don't. The ones that make it are the ones that work hard to excel further up the ladder.
IT: Talk about his work ethic and what you've seen from him as he's grown and matured as a football player.
Laurence: In our program, he's gone to camps. Over the summer, he went and he showed himself at Oklahoma, at A&M, at Texas, TCU. He allowed himself to be seen. A lot of kids don't do that. They don't put themselves out there. He got good exposure in the spring. At one point, we had five coaches from a school that were there to look at him. I've never had five coaches come in to look at a kid so you know they were fairly serious. And it was a good size school that was bringing them in to look at him. His off-season work is good. He doesn't miss. He's here every day. He worked hard for what he got even to the point where his dad, they would sit down and critique film. His dad would go over film with him at home, This is what you're doing, this is what you need to be doing. There was a game his junior year where he went across the middle -- he's 6-4 -- and we threw the ball to him, and I thought he should have caught the ball at the time. The kid that was playing him was not near as tall, but he went up after the ball. He gave great effort going after the ball, almost intercepted the ball. The next morning, which was Saturday morning, his dad had him out here catching balls over the goalpost. He had to jump up and catch the ball. You've got to get up in the air, you can't just rely on your height. He was teaching him that you have to get up there. That's what I'm saying. He worked hard. He worked hard in 7-on-7, he was a good team leader, he kept himself out of trouble -- no street problems, nothing like that -- his books were good, he just did his work, so he's earned what he's got.
IT: What positions did he play for you guys?
Laurence: He played wide receiver. We tried him at punt returner at one time but I was afraid I was gonna get him hurt. He can catch the ball well. At the time, he was 6-4, 190 pounds and he looked like a granddaddy long legs out there. I didn't want to get his knees injured. I didn't want somebody coming down and taking a shot at him because you're vulnerable there, so I pulled him off, but he could have done that. He was good at catching punts and a pretty good open field runner. He has pretty good speed and when he gets going, he's such a big, tall, lanky thing that he's awfully difficult to bring down. All of those things we looked at. I think he would have done anything we asked him to do if we asked him. We asked him to be a leader on offense, to catch footballs, and that's what he did. He set a school record for us in yards caught, in receptions. What I saw Josh doing, each game, he was raising his level of play. As we went through the season, more and more people knew we were going to get the ball to him, and they double-covered him and tried different things to stop him. He was just head and shoulders above anything else in this district as a wide receiver, I thought.
IT: Projecting forward, do you see Josh staying at wide receiver or, because of his dad and his body size, does he perhaps move down to tight end?
Laurence: I don't know. Depending on how much weight he will gain, how much they put on him, he could carry a lot more. But what does that do to his speed? In his mind, he is a wide receiver. He does not want to become a tight end. He's not his daddy in his eyes. He wants to be his own person. I tease him about that, They're going to put weight on you and you're going to be an ol' tight end. [Laughs] No, coach, I'm going to be a wide receiver. I think he has a good chance to stay a wide receiver. He has a tall frame. He's not a thick frame. His dad is thick. His mom is a tall lady. He's not as broad shouldered. Maybe that will come. In four or five years, you don't know what he's going to look like. He's still growing, he's still getting bigger, he's added probably 15 pounds since our season has been over with and he's working out.
IT: What's he up to right now?
Laurence: He's up to 215 right now.
IT: What are the areas of Joshs game that he needs to improve upon to be successful in college?
Laurence: First thing would be blocking. I talked with coach Brown on this, and I told Josh, You're going to have to block to play for these guys. And Coach Brown said, Yes you are. I think that would be the biggest thing. He's going to learn their routes, their way of doing things, their mechanics, their reads. Their reads may be a little graduated. They're higher than ours, a different level than our reads are for our kids. Ours are pretty simple, what we look for. Theirs may get a little complicated.
IT: What's he working on right now?
Laurence: He just goes out and throws and catches, throws and catches. There's not a lot you can do in shorts other than that. One of things that I think that he needs to look at is a juke move. I tease him on that, I said, Josh, you need to learn to juke a kid in the open field. You know, he just almost runs over them. I said, You're not going to do that in college. Coach, I can juke, I can juke. [Laughs] Well, OK, I'd like to see it one time. But his hands are great. You get the ball close to him, he's got a chance to catch it. Whether it's one-handed, I've seen him reach out and grab one-handed catches, over the shoulder, it doesn't matter. He's just got great hands.
IT: How did you use him in your offense?
Laurence: We used him as a deep threat and we have what we call a stop pattern, a seven-yard turnaround -- like a check mark, come back to the ball. That's where he got a great deal of -- I finally got my coaches into that, that this is the pattern we want to run. He caught a ton of balls right there. He can catch the slant. He's not afraid to go over the middle, but with his size and at the high school level, you have so many 5-10, 5-11 cornerbacks that we had an advantage, so we would throw the ball deep to him. He was our get 'em back off of us so we could run.
IT: Was there a particular route that was Josh's signature route?
Laurence: He's pretty crisp. He does a great job on the fade pattern using his height. When you watch him catch, it's like the ball is laying in his hands. Really, really soft. Some kids bobble the ball around, or you hear a slap sound when the ball hits, but with Josh it's just soft. You don't ever hear the ball hit his hands. It's all with his fingers and it's all soft. He just has tremendous hands.
IT: You mentioned earlier that you asked Josh to be a leader. Did he lead, and if so, how did he lead?
Laurence: Yes, he led. He led by example on the field. He's not a rah-rah kid. Matter of fact, he's a kid that will get down on himself if he does not do what he thinks he should have done. He's very competitive within himself. Does he allow that to bother him? No, but at the point in time, it bothers him. If he thinks he should have caught a pass, he's mad at himself. He's not mad at anyone else. He's mad at himself. You let him be him and in a second or two, he can forget it. The next play's coming up, I'm gonna catch this one. Yes, I messed that one up, but I won't this one. Watch this! That sort of attitude.
IT: What did Josh mean to your football program?
Laurence: To me, he was a way to move the football that I wasn't concerned about. We could move down the field, you knew he was going to be there, you knew he was going to be solid. My quarterback believed in him 100-percent. He was a go-to kid in crunch time and the good thing about this season, we had a number of kids that were pretty good receivers, especially kids that could catch the ball. And it allowed some of those guys to get open because of the coverage that Josh drew. They were above average also, but they weren't at the level he is at.
IT: Stylistically or physically, does he remind you of anybody?
Laurence: Nobody I've ever had. He's in his own realm. I coached receivers when I was at (Arlington) Lamar High School and I had one or two that were out of sight, but he is the largest kid, the tallest kid I've ever had and he is certainly in the top two or three in terms of hands, and those other kids went on to play somewhere, so he's in good company when I say he's in the top two or three. His size sets him apart from the other ones.
IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Josh's ability as a football player?
Laurence: One, he had a great game this year against Lamar, but he begun to cramp in the game. The game went to overtime. He cramped up and couldn't play in the overtime, and in my mind it cost us the ballgame because we didn't have him there to get the ball. Had he been there, I think we would have won the ballgame. My principal's husband is the principal at Lamar, and she came back and told me at the end of it, she said her husband said the same thing. The reason we lost was because he wasn't able to get on the field. In the same game, he was carrying the team, just did everything we asked him to do. He had a lot of those games, though, where he caught the ball, and like I said, he made our offense go. We scored basically 30 points a game and he was an integral part of that. Even though he wasn't always the one scoring the points, he helped get us there simply because he was on the field and people were watching him or covering him.
IT: Would you say Josh wants to redshirt, does he want to play right away, or is he good either way?
Laurence: I think his ego will say he wants to play. I personally was a redshirt myself and what it amounts to, you have another year to get your education in. And these days, it's harder and harder to get it in four years. To me, redshirting is a plus for kids. If he has to play and he plays, that's a testament to his ability. To me, it's almost better that they don't... I think a redshirt helps you get a year under your belt in the system. It allows you to understand it a little better so when your time does come you're a little bit more ready for it. So, I think redshirting is a plus.
IT: Is there anything you'd like to add about Josh that we didn't already cover?
Laurence: I think Josh is fortunate that he's had good coaches. Chris Notten is his position coach. Chris was a receiver at Texas Tech and at Arlington High and he did a good job with him. He's very fortunate in that he has a good home. His mom and dad have done a great job with this young man. He has good values. He understands what it means to stay away from trouble and to keep himself where he's not going to be involved in that. His character to me is way up here [motions above his head]. He doesn't party. He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he doesn't do drugs. I just think he's been raised probably the way you would want your own son raised. I think Ms. Jones, who is my principal, gave him a great compliment yesterday (when Mack Brown visited). He's the kind of young man that if she had a daughter, Josh would be the kind of young man she would like for her daughter to marry. I think that's pretty good for his character.
IT: When I met him he seemed very soft-spoken, but also very respectful...
Laurence: He's not a big talker. He's got that good Texas drawl, Yes sir, No sir, and things like that. He's a very good kid. Ya know, he'll come in here and sit down and visit. When he has questions, he'll ask 'em. When he doesn't understand something, he'll come see you. When you get on him, he takes the coaching and goes on. He doesn't pout. The only time that he even comes close to pouting is when he's mad at himself for something, and like I said, that's about as long as till the start of the next play. He doesn't have time to dwell on it. He lets it go and goes on to the next play.
Also see: Inside Scoop -- Jan. 27 edition
UT's Signing Day bio: A two-time all-district player who was a three-year letterman at wide receiver
had 114 catches for 1,459 yards and 11 TDs over his final two seasons
tabbed honorable mention 5A all-state by The Associated Press as a senior
a unanimous all-district (7-5A) selection that year
also earned all-area accolades
made 81 receptions for 1,091 yards and six TDs
named second-team all-district as a junior
tallied 33 receptions for 368 yards and five TDs that year
was a two-year letterman as a pitcher and earned first-team all-district honors his junior season
switched to track and field for his senior year
an honor roll student in high school
was a regular speaker at local junior high schools
enjoys playing video games and shooting pool
father, Tank, was a defensive end at Texas A&M (1973-77) and in the NFL (1977-81) for the New York Jets and the Houston Oilers
full name is Joshua Anthony Marshall
born Aug. 13, 1987 in Grand Prairie, Texas.
"It was a little bit of everything; Academics, athletics all of it. It fits me better than all of the other schools. My parents and I feel like I'll do well at Texas. It was difficult at first, but I am so glad I picked Texas -- it's a blessing."
NEXT UP: SHERROD HARRIS
All photos: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas