ATHENS — It’s a good thing Keith Marshall was able to finish up that finance degree at UGA last semester. He’s getting to put it to use already.
The recently-graduated Georgia tailback went to Indianapolis for the NFL combine last week and he came back with $50,000 in his pocket.
Well, ever the accountant, Marshall points out that he hasn’t actually received the money yet. So far all he has gotten is his picture made with some fake cash while wearing some gold Adidas cleats. But because he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds — 4.31 officially — and because it was the fastest of all the participants this year, he knows some actual money will be arriving soon.
And thanks to the 3.2 grade-point average he logged in UGA’s Terry College of Business, he knows what to do with it.
“I’m not getting too deep into investments right now,” said Marshall, as he drove home to Raleigh, N.C., from Athens late Wednesday evening. “I’ll probably just put it in my Merrill Lynch account. I’m not going to have it just sitting out depreciating. I’ll do a little something with it.”
Each year, Adidas promises $10,000 to the fastest combine participant in each position group, $50,000 to the fastest athlete overall and $1 million to anybody who breaks Chris Johnson’s NFL Combine record (4.24).
Based on his training times, Marshall actually thought he had a chance to come home with the big check.
“I was running 4.2s in training pretty consistently, really ever since high school,” Marshall said. “But I wasn’t really overly focused on trying to win that. I was just focused on doing as good as I can and showcasing my speed.”
For now, the 50 Gs will do just fine. Besides, never minding the money he came home with, Marshall knows he banked some serious bucks in Indiana this past weekend.
Running a fast 40 wasn’t Marshall’s only accomplishment at Lucas Oil Stadium. He also bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times. That was more than any other running back in the field and actually three more reps than Alabama’s Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Derrick Henry.
Most importantly, Marshall checked out completely well in the famously intensive medical examinations. So it was a very good and very productive trip for Marshall.
“Absolutely. I think that helped my draft stock,” Marshall said. “I think teams are going to go back and reevaluate me. I think the bigger part of the combine was just checking out medically. We had a lot of medical stuff we had to do and I checked out 100 percent. So I think that was even bigger than the on-the-field stuff.”
As for the blistering 40 time, none of his Georgia teammates were surprised to see that. In fact, his close friend Todd Gurley predicted it, and not just with the Tweet he sent out minutes before Marshall made his nationally-televised run on the NFL network.
Gurley proved prophetic in the text exchange he had with Marshall 15 minutes before he ran.
“He said, ‘I’m calling it. A 4.29 and a 4.31,’” Marshall said with a laugh. “And literally my first run was a 4.29 and my second run was a 4.31. I’ve got the screen shot, too. I can’t post it because we talked about other stuff, too. But that was crazy.”
Gurley and Marshall were once known as “Gurshall” at Georgia because together their jersey numbers 3 and 4 together make Herschel Walker’s 34, and their combined freshman production actually out-gained the Bulldogs’ legendary tailback. And while they’ve long since shed that annoying nickname, they remain extremely close friends.
They’ll rendezvous in their home state of North Carolina this weekend and will attend the Duke-North Carolina basketball game in Durham. They’re both huge Blue Devil basketball fans. Gurley, fresh off an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign for the St. Louis Rams, scored the tickets.
“So that should be fun,” Marshall said. “Yeah, we talk pretty much every day. Our relationship is probably not as much about football as it is just being friends.”
But first, there is some much more somber business to which Marshall much attend. He was on his way to Raleigh to attend the funeral of his paternal grandmother. Helen P. Marshall passed away on the morning Feb. 26. She was 77.
That was the same day Marshall clocked his incredible 40 time.
“I didn’t know until afterward; my parents didn’t tell me,” Marshall said. “I guess they probably just wanted me to stay focused, which is a good thing. It was difficult for them I’m sure.”
It’s a good thing because the news surely would have shook up Marshall. Helen Marshall was a big part of her grandson’s life. She lived nearby and the family spent every Christmas at her house.
“She’s been sick,” said Marshall, who attended the service at Friendship Holiness Church in High Point, N.C. on Thursday. “We actually kind of had a last get-together for Christmas. We thought it was coming this year, but it’s still hard. I mean, she was close.”
Once Marshall gets that behind him, there is a lot ahead. After training the last two months at Paul Bommarito Performance Systems in Miami, Marshall has moved back to Athens and will continue working out there. He said he has lost “a good amount of weight” but has gained muscle and significantly improved his body-fat percentage. He measured 5-foot-11 and 219 pounds in Indianapolis.
Though he blew away the NFL combine, Marshall said he still plans to work out at UGA’s Pro Day on March 16. He’s just going to take a pass on running the 40 again.
No, Marshall made his statement — and likely a lot of dinero — with his run last week in Indy.
“They’re saying all kinds of things, but it’s still early honestly,” Marshall, who is being represented by JL Sports, said of his NFL prospects. “After Pro Day I’ll have a better idea. People still aren’t divulging everything they got from the combine. I know my stock rose a lot from what I understand. But there’s still a long way to go before all that stuff.”