Lawrence Marshall holds offers from Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, Tennessee and many other schools. (Photo courtesy of Scout.com)
For Southfield standout Lawrence Marshall, recruiting has been a bit of a roller coaster ride in recent weeks. The rising defensive end prospect abruptly committed to Ohio State on Feb. 10, only to rescind that pledge three days later. His change of heart came when his family encouraged him to take a hard look at whether he'd made the most informed choice. He eventually concluded that he hadn't, thanks in large part to trips to Michigan State and Michigan on Feb. 12 and 13, respectively.
"I went up to Michigan State and saw how they were, and I went up to Michigan and saw how they were and I was like, 'I just made my decision too early,'" Marshall admitted. "I (initially said) I would wait it out until after my football season. I had a great time (in Columbus Feb. 9-10) and it was crazy, but it was just going too fast. I'm trying to slow it back down."
The Spartans and Wolverines have hammered that point home in recent weeks. Michigan State was first to host Marshall after his sudden Ohio State commitment, and his experience that day reminded him of a few things. The Green and White held the distinction of being both his childhood favorite and his first major BCS offer. In addition, the presence of his good friend, former Southfield Lathrup linebacker Jamal Lyles, only increased the Spartans' appeal. While he had never declared Michigan State his favorite, his high level of comfort with the program had always been apparent. He rediscovered on the visit just how comfortable he is East Lansing.
Said Marshall, "The game was crazy! It was a great basketball game with Keith Appling and Trey Burke going head to head. Then I had a sit-down with Coach 'D' (Dantonio) and was talking to him. He was just telling me the ins and outs of how he felt. He was just talking to me as a person — not as a football recruit, and he just opened my eyes. "
"He said, 'You've got to find the truth in people. You've got to figure out if they're really there for you or if they just want you because you're a kid from Michigan.'"
Marshall added: "I'm just trying to see each campus. I'm just trying to go see other schools right now. Ohio State — they're still one of my favorite schools, don't get me wrong. Coach Urban Meyer is a great coach, Coach (Kerry) Coombs is a wonderful coach, and the D-line coach is a great coach, too. Everybody is a great coach. There is nothing against Ohio State at all. I just want to wait out my decision right now and take it slow."
'Like Terrell Suggs'
Marshall's time in Ann Arbor the next day further cemented in his mind the need to do so. He had gained a much greater appreciation for the Wolverines in recent months thanks to their persistent courtship, but that day they took things to another level.
"Just being up at Michigan opened my eyes," said Marshall. "Talking to players like Denard Robinson — he was telling me the good and bad and just being real with me. Seeing everything, talking to the coaching staff — all the coaching staff was up there and I was talking to everybody.
"I literally spent the whole day with Brady Hoke. I was also with Coach Montgomery, Coach Mattison, Coach Jackson. It was one-on-one (attention) the whole day."
Marshall made his way back to East Lansing on Feb. 16 for an overnight visit, and he was able to reconnect with some old acquaintances and also make some new ones.
"I got a chance to talk to a whole lot of players and just had a great time up there," he said. "I talked to Jamal Lyles. I knew him before he went to college, so I know he was being real with me. He was telling me the ins and outs of MSU. I talked to (new defensive line coach) Ron Burton. We had a great conversation. He is a good guy and a good coach. Getting a chance to talk to him and trying to get a feel for how he coaches was a good thing."
Due to Jerry Montgomery's departure from Michigan, Marshall thought he'd need to gain a similar understanding when he visited Ann Arbor last weekend. The Wolverines quickly put that concern to rest.
"I found that out (last Friday)," said Marshall regarding Montgomery's move to Oklahoma. "It really didn't hurt Michigan's chances. Coach Mattison would be the guy coaching me. I'd be working directly with him so (Montgomery leaving) was no loss. Coach Mattison, I was with him the whole time. He said I'd be like Terrell Suggs as a rush guy coming off the edge."
Bond with Ross
Another one-on-one with Hoke, meetings with academic advisors, and tours were other visit highlights. When all of that was done, he spent time with the players and came away having forged a bond with one in particular.
"I stayed with James Ross," said Marshall. "I had heard of him, but I had never met him. I had a good conversation with him.
"It was all good. It was only my third time coming up to Michigan; I really didn't get a chance to see everything the first couple of times. This time I really got to see everything. It really opened up my eyes."
Even with multiple strong visits, Marshall still claims no favorites among his growing list of suitors. For the time being he is content stacking offers and taking his time to evaluate as many of them as possible.
"I don't have any more visits set up as of now," he said. "My recruiting process is open."
Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine.com and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA.
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