Brian Marshall played football at Northwestern 20 years ago after being a star running back for legendary coach Al Fracassa at Birmingham Brother Rice.
Now Marshall’s 13-year-old son, Isaiah Marshall, already is making a name for himself as a quarterback on the Southfield Falcons youth team.
In fact, Isaiah Marshall — a seventh-grader at MacArthur Academy in Southfield — already has received college attention, getting an offer Tuesday morning from Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
“It happened this morning when Coach Harbaugh came to Southfield (A&T) and he reviewed a lot of his tape, broke it down and critiqued it and made the offer,” Brian Marshall said.
Sure, there have been eighth-graders who have received offers in past years, including quarterbacks Dwan Mathis and Sam Johnson — both from Akron — a few years back and offensive lineman Damon Payne of Belleville, two years ago from Georgia.
And, while Mathis (Oak Park) signed with Georgia last month and Johnson (Walled Lake Western) with Boston College, Payne became a first-team all-state selection by The News his sophomore year at Belleville High, where he helped his team win a regional title for the first time in program history this past fall.
Still, a seventh-grader?
“Isaiah plays quarterback for the Southfield Falcons, which is the youth team since they really don’t do the middle school ball here,” Brian Marshall said of 5-foot-8, 155-pound Isaiah. “He has a couple of national championships and they finished third in the country this year so they have some good kids around him. It’s a travel team and they represent Michigan pretty well.”
Brian Marshall is an assistant coach at Southfield A&T with his brother, Aaron Marshall, as the team’s offensive coordinator. So, it’s fitting that Isaiah will be playing his high school ball there in a couple of years.
“It’s a natural fit,” Marshall said. “My brother Aaron has been training Isaiah since he could walk. Aaron played college ball as a quarterback at Youngstown State, then played arena ball.”
So, is Marshall surprised that seventh-graders are getting offers?
“It was different when we came up since we didn’t have social media and all of these exposure camps and different things going on,” Marshall said. “It was surprising three or four years ago and now it’s starting to be, I won’t say norm yet, but it’s starting to become a norm because coaches are getting in early and starting to identify these kids a lot earlier.
“I was fortunate enough where I’ve been through the process and I was a high recruit as far as an All-American and was able to understand most of it, but the social media aspect of it is new. I have a lot of friends that are coaches at the college level so I understand the things that they are dealing with as well. It’s kind of surprising, but not as surprising as it would be three or four years ago.”
And, on keeping Isaiah grounded with the type of hype now on social media?
“The good thing is my wife played basketball at DePaul so we’ve both been college athletes, student athletes, so we know kind of the things to keep his head down and keep him grinding,” Marshall said of Isaiah’s mother, Yolanda.
“He’s not into social media, and I handle his Twitter account. He doesn’t have Facebook, so he’s not listening to what everybody is saying, and to be honest he’s just a real humbled, laid back kid.
“He’s just your average kid who just wants to hang out with his friends, but he’s committed to the process so he understands work hard, play hard and take care of your business and everything else falls where it falls.”
Isaiah Marshall could well be an average kid, but one with a bright future with football fans wanting to get a glimpse of him in the years ahead.