Late Razorback signee has name as well as game

By: Robert Yates
Published: Sunday, July 14, 2013
Korliss Marshall's offer, commitment and signing process was a quick one.
Korliss Marshall's offer, commitment and signing process was a quick one.

Eighth in a series profiling newcomers to the Arkansas football team.

Korliss Marshall said he’s never met Corliss Williamson, and, in the case of how Marshall’s collegiate recruitment unfolded, that could be construed a good thing.

Marshall, a three-sport standout at Osceola and incoming freshman safety at Arkansas, is named after Williamson, a standout basketball player in the late 1980s and early 1990s at Russellville and for the Razorbacks.

Williamson is now the men’s basketball coach at Central Arkansas, where Marshall had orally committed to play football before accepting a scholarship offer from Arkansas - his dream destination.

“I’ve heard quite a lot about him, how he was an outstanding basketball player at the University of Arkansas,” said Marshall, the 2013 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Male Athlete of the Year. “But other than that, I’ve never actually seen him in person. One of the things I want to do, hopefully, is meet him.”

Marshall was born Aug. 16, 1994, a little more than four months after Williamson powered Arkansas to the NCAA championship.

Marshall said his mother,Tiffani Finley, was apparently a big fan of Williamson, who was nicknamed “Big Nasty” in his playing days.

The slight twist on the spelling of the first name, Marshall said, was for emphasis.

“I actually didn’t know where she got the name from to begin with,” Marshall said. “I was wondering because everybody kind of emphasized the fact that my name was Korliss. Finally, I got to the bottom of it when I found out who Corliss Williamson was.”

Marshall said as a child he received a basketball autographed by Williamson, but their paths never crossed on an official visit to UCA in January, which was one of the final chapters in a head-spinning recruiting month for the running back/safety.

Marshall, 6-0, 202 pounds, was planning to sign with UCA until Arkansas, overhauling its wish list under new coach Bret Bielema, began a push on the eve of national signing day.

Marshall was offered a scholarship by the Razorbacks on Jan. 30, was on an official visit Feb. 1, orally committed Feb. 3 and signed Feb. 6.

“Obviously, he benefited from the transition of the staffs,” said first-year Arkansas tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., who was the lead recruiter on Marshall. “We were a little bit behind in recruiting and really needed to re-evaluate everybody thoroughly. We kept coming back to him. We felt like he was the next guy in Arkansas that had the best chance, athletically, to play in the SEC. It just worked out real good for us and for him.”

Marshall said his mother “smiled like no other time” when informed that he had been offered a scholarship by Arkansas.

“I knew then this was going to be the right decision,” he said.

Marshall could be the most gifted athlete in Arkansas’ incoming recruiting class.

Marshall helped the Seminoles reach the Class 3A football playoffs last fall with 1,711 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on 129 carries.

Marshall rushed for at least 200 yards in six games, including a career-high 299 yards against Hoxie on Sept. 21.

He also started at safety.

Marshall helped Osceola advance to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state basketball tournament, averaging 10.5 points, 3.1 blocks, 2.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game.

At the Class 3A state track and field meet, Marshall led the Seminoles to a fourth place finish by winning the 100 (10.90), long jump (21 feet, 3 inches) and triple jump (44-2).

Marshall will begin his college career at safety and said he may have a chance to return kicks.

“No doubt, athletically, he can do it,” Lunney said. “The thing that made it interesting for us is he’s so good with the ball in his hand, too.”

Korliss Marshall at a glance

CLASS Freshman HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-0, 202 POSITION Safety HOMETOWN Osceola NOTEWORTHY 2013 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Male Athlete of the Year. … Had 1,711 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on 129 carries last fall. Also caught 8 passes for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns, returned 12 punts for 248 yards and 5 kickoffs for 122 yards. … Ran for 4,347yards and 60 touchdowns in high school career. … Class 3A state champion as a senior in the 100 (10.90), long jump (21 feet, 3 inches) and triple jump (44-2). … Also had scholarship offers from Arkansas State, Central Arkansas, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Henderson State, Alabama-Birmingham and Missouri State. … Named after former Arkansas Razorbacks basketball standout Corliss Williamson. … Plans to major in communication.

Sports, Pages 21 on 07/14/2013