COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jalin Marshall didn’t make a big deal out of it, but a 3-yard shovel pass from J.T. Barrett for his first career touchdown during Ohio State’s 66-0 win against Kent State on Saturday was a very big moment for him.
Marshall arrived at Ohio State last year rated as a 5-star recruit and the No. 1 prospect in Ohio in the 2013 recruiting class after a record-setting career as a dual-threat quarterback at Middletown High School.
But once he got to OSU, it started to feel like he might never get onto the field.
Concussion issues forced him to redshirt last season as a freshman. Then he missed spring practice when he had to have surgery for a torn meniscus. At Ohio State’s preseason media day in August, he said he felt like “kind of a myth” and that he was tired of that feeling.
Before Saturday, he had run the ball three times for 11 yards and caught two passes for 19 yards this season. He hopes his first college touchdown and a 51-yard punt return against Kent State were a preview of what he can do the rest of this year and the rest of his career. And maybe a validation of the recruiting rankings.
“It’s been really hard. I’ve had a couple of setbacks,” Marshall said. “Being my first time it [the touchdown] was real good. It felt real nice. I had a smile from ear to ear.”
And, even though he dove into the end zone to get that touchdown, his reaction to it was subdued.
“I scored a lot at Middletown so I try to pride myself on when I do score act like you’ve been there before. I don’t need to do anything fancy, I don’t need to celebrate. Just give the ball to the ref and score another one,” he said.
My column on Ohio State’s Jalin Marshall. http://t.co/23Ov8WFPTA
— Jim Naveau (@Lima_Naveau) September 14, 2014
It was a feel-good day all around when the Buckeyes got some of the bad taste of last week’s 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech out of their mouths. So much so that coach Urban Meyer could joke with Marshall about being caught from behind by Kent State’s punter on the long punt return and Marshall could laugh about it too.
“My hamstring was cramped up. No, I tried to make too many moves on him and he got me down,” he said.
For Marshall, Saturday was a beginning. But just a beginning.
“It’s not an accomplishment because I haven’t done as much as I can accomplish. But it feels like it has finally happened, my dreams have come true,” he said. “With dreams you have to keep dreaming higher and my dreams are definitely higher.”
Saturday’s big win allowed other young playmakers to build their confidence, too. Freshman Curtis Samuel rushed for 100 yards and scored two touchdowns. Freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan had two sacks. Redshirt freshman tight end Marcus Baugh came off a two-game suspension to catch his first career touchdown pass. Other freshmen, like defensive end Jalyn Holmes, offensive lineman Jamarco Jones, wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, cornerback Damon Webb and safety Erick Smith also played.
“I wanted to see a quick start. I wanted to see some young players play, even players who are considered starters,” Meyer said.
And maybe no one among those young players was happier to get that chance than Marshall.
Didn’t house it, but Jalin Marshall running kicks back is NICE http://t.co/5Xdann3gjg
— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 13, 2014