Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
The Recruiting Guy:
Arkansas' offer opens floodgates for junior
Recruiting is about relationships, and junior defensive lineman Jalen Marshall knows that firsthand.
Marshall, 6-5, 275 pounds, of Overland Park (Kan.) St. Thomas Aquinas received his first of nine scholarship offers from the University of Arkansas on April 2.
St. Thomas Aquinas defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Chad McKinnis was an assistant for Razorback linebackers coach Rion Rhoades while he was the head coach at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.
"My coach sent them my film, and Coach Rhoades liked it and he decided to offer me," Marshall said. "I was pumped."
Marshall has heard good things about Rhoades.
"They use to coach together and they're pretty good friends, and he's a good guy," Marshall said of his report from McKinnis.
St. Thomas Aquinas Coach Randy Dreiling is also friends with Rhoades.
Oklahoma State, Kansas and Nebraska soon followed Arkansas with an offer. Missouri, Kansas State, Indiana, Washington State and Virginia presented a second wave of offers.
"It was a really big deal," Marshall of the Razorbacks' offer. "My whole family was excited for me."
Whenever the NCAA lifts the dead period and allows prospects to visit college campuses again, Marshall hopes to visit Fayetteville.
"If I get the opportunity, I know Arkansas is not super far away," Marshall said. "It would be a for sure visit."
Marshall, who has a 3.5 grade-point average, is considering architectural engineering or sports medicine as majors in college.
He can't imagine life without football.
"I enjoy hitting people a lot," Marshall said. "It's something I've played my whole life. If I didn't play football, my life wouldn't feel right. I love football."
In six games this season, Marshall has 31 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 deflected passes, 1 blocked field goal and a forced fumble.
CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming rates Marshall a 4-star prospect.
"Jalen is a good size kid, natural athlete and knee bender," Lemming said. "He can play tackle or defensive end. He runs well while showing good agility and balance. Very aggressive."
Being a taller defensive lineman presents challenges, but Marshall is working to overcome them.
"Staying low off the ball," Marshall said, "since I get double-teamed every single game. I think that's one of the big things I need to work on, getting off the blocks as I'm doubled-teamed and getting the pass rush going. Just splitting the double team."
Although his mother attended Iowa State and father attended Oklahoma State, Marshall said he didn't grow up rooting for a particular team.
"Those were the games that were always on, but I really don't have a favorite college football team," he said.
Marshall has noticed how Arkansas has improved under Coach Sam Pittman.
"They have a really tough schedule playing in the SEC," he said. "I've noticed they've definitely done better."
The chance to play in the SEC is enticing. Marshall believes a good career in the conference could help his stock.
"A lot of good teams play in the SEC, and there's a lot of good football programs, so you're playing better teams," Marshall said. "You're obviously getting better, and it looks better for NFL coaches."
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Jalen Marshall highlights
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