ATHENS — There will be more than in-state rivalry on the line when Georgia and Georgia Tech play on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. For Keith and Marcus Marshall, their sibling rivalry will be every bit as intense.
Keith Marshall plays tailback for the Bulldogs. Marcus Marshall, his little brother, plays B-back for the Yellow Jackets. So they’re unlikely to run into each other physically during Saturday’s game, but there has been constant conflict via in-person banter and cellular signal.
“It’s exciting,” Keith Marshall said after Georgia’s practice Monday night. “It’ll be fun because I never got to play against him, compete against him. So it will be fun to hopefully get bragging rights.”
As it stands, the Yellow Jackets currently have bragging rights, having scored an 30-24 overtime victory last year in Athens. Georgia (8-3) enters Saturday’s game as a 5.5-point favorite in light of the Tech’s poor season (3-8)
“It’d definitely be cool to have the bragging rights because obviously this is his last go at it so he would never have a chance to redeem himself,” said Marcus, a 5-foot-10, 209-pound freshman. “So it’d be cool to have the bragging rights for sure.”
The two Raleigh residents are at decidedly different points in their respective careers. While Marcus is just getting started, Keith surprised a lot of people last week with a decision to participate in Georgia’s Senior Night ceremony. While he’s set to graduate after this semester, Keith Marshall has another year of eligibility available if he chose to take.
But he has chosen to not. His college career has been marred by injuries the last two seasons, including a major knee reconstruction in 2013. Even before another recent scare — he “tweaked” his knee and ankle in the Kentucky game — Keith Marshall said he had already decided to give the NFL a shot while, metaphorically speaking, some tread remains on his tires.
“It’s something that I had talked to Coach Richt about” a couple of months ago, Marshall said. “Basically I had decided ‘I’m graduating and so I’m just not going to come back.’ I’m going to take that next step in life and see where that goes.”
Marshall certainly hasn’t wasted his time while in Athens. In December he’ll graduate from UGA’s prestigious Terry College of business with a degree in finance.
It has actually been a tougher go on the field. He had rushed for 1,005 yards in 19 games over two seasons when he was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury against Tennessee in 2013. He tried to come back last season but aggravated the injury in the season’s third game.
Now third string, the former 5-star recruiting prospect has shown flashes of returning to full speed this season. He rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries and scored on a spectacular 10-yard pass reception against Kentucky on Nov. 7. But he was also flipped while diving for extra yards in that game and sustained minor knee and ankle injuries again. He has not played in the two games since and enters Saturday’s Tech game with 255 yards and four touchdowns in nine games.
He hopes to play against the Jackets and his little brother.
“That’s a decision the coaches have to make,” he said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to get ready to contribute.”
Meanwhile, as for the sibling rivalry, Keith said he has heard his parents have had made some sort of split jerseys to show support for both of their sons on Saturday. But if either has anything blue and gold on, Keith said they won’t be allowed to sit among Georgia fans.
And Keith said he won’t be wearing any Tech apparel in the future either.
“Even when I’m done playing and he’s still at Tech, I’ll never put on a Tech shirt,” Marshall said. “Quite frankly, we don’t like them.”
Ken Sugiura of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.