THOMASTON, Ga. — David Marshall is not the athlete he was a year ago.
That said, it is off-target to label the UGA signee a late bloomer because the three-star defensive end had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Indiana, Ole Miss and UCLA a year ago.
He was known, but compare his current physique to when he was getting his to-offer-or-not-to-offer evaluation during his junior year.
“His body has really changed over the last year to 16 months,” Upson-Lee coach Tommy Parks said. “When you see him every day, you notice a tremendous difference.”
Marshall has really bulked up. He wasn’t capable then of the 400-pound bench press he is now. To prove the point, the team he grew up rooting for never offered until Kirby Smart was hired.
UGA flipped Marshall from Auburn on signing day ,but he was happy with Auburn. If Smart would’ve remained at Alabama, there is no doubt he would’ve signed with Auburn.
He committed to Auburn, then de-committed but re-committed again. He held that commitment until he made the decision to sign with UGA.
“My family told me when that Georgia offer came I might as well go there because I am only one hour from my auntie and uncle going to school in Athens,” Marshall said. “My uncle lives in Roswell and my aunt lives in Dunwoody.”
Marshall will graduate on May 27 and report to UGA the next day. His DawgNation recruiting recap reveals more than the fact he’ll wear No. 9, No. 13 or No. 97 at UGA.
DawgNation: If you have any advice to a junior now going through their process, what would it be?
Marshall: All of the colleges out there look the same. You need to find a good relationship with a coach at a college you want to play for.
DawgNation: How quickly after Smart was hired did you start thinking about UGA?
Marshall: Well, Kirby has been recruiting me and has known me since I was in the ninth grade. I know he talks to my (high school) coach a lot, too. When he was hired at Georgia they came to see me and offered the next day, I knew then I was going to have to start thinking twice about if I wanted to go to Auburn or Georgia.
DawgNation: You took consecutive trips to UGA in January. When did you know that you were coming?
Marshall: I knew I’d be going to UGA after that second visit.
DawgNation: How hard was it to tell Auburn?
Marshall: It was that talk when you are about to break up with your girlfriend. It was hard because Auburn was coming to see me every day or every other day. I told them I was going to go with Georgia after that second visit.
DawgNation: How did Auburn react?
Marshall: He (defensive line coach Rodney Garner) said good luck. Then they called me again on Monday before signing day. That was coach Gus (Malzahn) this time. He’d I told Coach Garner I was going to Georgia. He said, ‘I know the relationship you have with Kirby but think of that relationship with (UGA defensive line coach) Rocker, too.’ He said that because Rocker wasn’t looking at me when coach (Mark) Richt was there. Gus said, ‘I know you wanted to play with Kirby when he was at Alabama’ and I said yeah and that was it.
DawgNation: Why didn’t you commit to play for Smart when he was at Alabama?
Marshall: “Alabama recruits everybody in the nation. Everybody that goes there is the No. 1 player at their position. I’d get a better chance of playing early at Auburn than Alabama. I looked at it as playing time.”
DawgNation: Think back to your visits. What were the funniest moments?
Marshall: Those had to be at Georgia. Their coaches and stuff. The new offensive line coach (Sam Pittman) and the outside linebackers coach (Kevin Sherrer) are the funniest dudes I’ve ever seen. They joke around and talk about football and how funny players act on the field and after workouts. Both guys are funny, but Pittman is even funnier. He’s always joking and laughing and making me laugh and smile, too.
DawgNation: What could have Auburn done better?
Marshall: Find a way for Kirby (Smart) to not get the Georgia job. If not for Kirby going to coach at Georgia, I’d be going to play for Auburn and been fine with it.
DawgNation: Who was the nicest coach you met along the trail?
Marshall: That was coach (Will) Muschamp who is now at South Carolina. The relationship he had with my grandma goes back a long way. His wife also had a great relationship with my grandma. My grandma and coach Muschamp have known each other since he was born. Coach Muschamp is a nice person and he wife is a really good person, too.
DawgNation: What has life been like for you since you signed with UGA?
Marshall: It has been pretty good. There are a lot of Georgia fans in Thomaston. They tell me that if I ever need help with anything to ask them about it. They’ll try to help. It has just been great.
DawgNation: What was the biggest rumor about you?
Marshall: Just speculation. It was before signing day and they put on Rivals I de-committed from Auburn before signing day, but I never did. I never de-committed from Auburn. I never told Auburn I was going to de-commit when we talked. I just told them I was going to sign with Georgia on signing day, but I never de-committed from Auburn.
DawgNation: What was the biggest secret you kept during your recruiting?
Marshall: It was about how I felt so strongly about that relationship with Kirby (Smart) once he was hired by Georgia. What was going through my mind was a lot of stuff. My uncle thought Georgia was fixing to offer because they hired Kirby as the head coach. I thought about that and the next day (UGA assistant) coach (Glenn) Schumann came and visited and they offered me. At first, I wasn’t going on my official to Georgia. But then when they came and offered, I knew I was going to take an official to Georgia.
DawgNation: What went through your mind after the Georgia offer?
Marshall: It complicated it. Most of my whole family are die-hard Georgia fans. They kept saying you better go to Georgia now that Kirby is there and he’s offered you.
DawgNation: I’m curious about something now. Did you commit to Georgia because of Coach Smart? Or was it because your family was big Georgia fans? Let’s test that. Would you have signed with Georgia if Mark Richt was the coach and he offered you?
Marshall: I would have went to Georgia. It was Kirby and how much all my family loved Georgia. It was both. With both, it was kind of a done deal after that.
DawgNation: Any regrets from your decision?
Marshall: I wish I would’ve seen more schools. I wish I would’ve went to see Clemson again and UCLA. I only went to see Georgia, Clemson, Auburn and Mississippi State.
DawgNation: Did you hear anything during the last weeks of your recruiting that made you think everyone was pulling out all the stops?
Marshall: It was the same stuff with (Auburn defensive line) coach (Rodney) Garner and how he played in college with (UGA defensive line) coach (Tracy) Rocker at Auburn. Coach Garner told me how Rocker was from Georgia and he didn’t go to Georgia to play in college. He went to Auburn. He said you know (Rocker) didn’t want you at Georgia when (former UGA defensive coordinator) coach (Jeremy) Pruitt was there. If they would’ve offered you when Richt was there, then he wouldn’t have played you and all that.
DawgNation: Which school recruited you the best?
Marshall: I would say Auburn. Georgia came in real late when Kirby got hired.
DawgNation: How important was UGA assistant coach Glenn Schumann?
Marshall: I’ve known him since my ninth grade year when I went to camp at Alabama. I didn’t know he was twenty-something years old when I first saw him. I thought he was a pretty nice guy and after that I saw him my 10th grade year at camp and we started building a relationship together and kept talking.
DawgNation: What are you looking forward to the most at UGA?
Marshall: I’m looking forward to getting on campus and building a relationship with the recruits coming in and the players there. I’m ready to start working out and practicing and playing.
DawgNation: Which UGA commitments were important in your decision?
Marshall: That was Tyler (Clark) and Chris Barnes. They came up with me on both weekends. They kept talking about you might as well go ahead and commit and come here you’re having so much fun in Athens. The only time I’d been to Georgia before that was on gamedays.
DawgNation: What was your best visit?
Marshall: I would say Georgia when we went to that basketball game. They walked us onto the court and I had chill bumps and all that. I knew then that I was going to Georgia when I was walking on that court.
DawgNation: How did you let Georgia know?
Marshall: I told (UGA assistant) coach (Glenn) Schumann on the second weekend that I went back that he was going to be happy with me on signing day.
DawgNation: Which school disappointed you during your recruiting?
Marshall: Clemson. I tried to go on my official there but the coach never hit me back up. So I just assumed they no longer wanted me to come there.
DawgNation: Which school would you have considered more if they had recruited you harder?
Marshall: Mississippi State. That’s because of coach (David) Turner. The D-line coach. He’s got family in Macon it turns out I am cousins with.
DawgNation: Which head coach of a team that you did not sign with really impressed you?
Marshall: I would say Coach Gus (Malzahn) at Auburn. He was real nice to my grandmother and stuff and really went out of his way to make us feel at home. … The best part about that Auburn offer was coach Gus and the chance there to play early.
The Upson-Lee standout will start out at defensive end and outside linebacker. He plans to room with defensive line signee Tyler Clark from Americus-Sumter and offensive line recruit Chris Barnes out of Lee County. Those three got real close on Marshall’s late visits to UGA.
Catch up with DawgNation’s series recapping the recruiting stories of UGA’s signees this year:
Tyler Simmons: What caused his to flip from Alabama?
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.
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