Iman Marshall belongs in any discussion about the best collegiate cornerback prospects we've seen in recent years. The Long Beach, Calif., product dominates at the position and is being recruited accordingly.
His scholarship offer list covers coast-to-coast conference powers. Florida State, Oregon, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Stanford are just a few of many programs clamoring for a commitment from the 6'1", 190-pound junior.
He has already spent significant time on campus at nearby USC and UCLA.
Marshall made highlight plays throughout a journey to the Southern California semifinals last season. He starred at wide receiver and cornerback, collecting 64 tackles and an interception, but his most impressive accomplishment didn't show up in the stat sheet.
The Long Beach Poly High School standout didn't surrender a single reception against league opponents, earning area defensive player of the year honors in the process. The team featured a dominant secondary with 5-star 2014 USC signee John Smith also lined up in the defensive backfield.
Marshall is a player college football fans need to know due to his potential to contribute immediately on campus. His high-profile recruitment will continue to command attention until he nails down a final decision.
We broke down the game film to analyze elements that make Marshall such an impressive prospect, providing a closer look at his skill set and strengths.
|Hometown||Long Beach, Calif.|
|School||Long Beach Poly High School|
|Size||6'1", 190 lbs|
|Rankings||No. 8 player nationally, No. 2 cornerback, No. 3 player in California|
|Key Offers||USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, Stanford, Penn State, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State, Oklahoma|
Marshall is adaptable to various defensive schemes, displaying superior athleticism and a legitimate understanding of how offensive plays develop. The downfield awareness he regularly shows off is well beyond his years and takes pressure of the safeties behind him.
His backpedal is precise and smooth, enabling Marshall to fluidly react and attack near the line of scrimmage. He drops downfield with effortless strides and shadows his target in coverage.
Marshall may surrender space to larger receivers, but this simply serves as bait. He dares the quarterback to challenge his closing speed and ability to acrobatically adjust in mid-air.
There isn't a matchup "type" that truly scares you when Marshall is charged with the task. He's rangy and physical enough to withstand the pressures of contending with taller pass targets while exhibiting elite agility that enables him to mirror even the slipperiest receivers.
While his explosiveness stands out on tape, patience is perhaps the separating factor when you measure Marshall against America's other top-rated defensive backs.
He appears nuanced in his approach to intermediate pass coverage and refuses to wear down even when a play is designed to take him out of the equation.
He simply shuts down his side of the field in pass coverage. From snap to whistle, Marshall makes it a point to blanket his target with no signs of undisciplined play.
His game is balanced because of an ability to dissect and dismantle rushing lanes. Marshall is a willing run defender who fires toward the football and finishes tackles through the torso.
He doesn't get swallowed up by blocks like several of his cornerback contemporaries. Instead, Marshall maintains low pad level and fights to disengage during his pursuit.
Finding issues in the approach of a player like Marshall requires some serious nitpicking. He's such a nuanced defender and leaves little room from major refinement at the next level.
There are times when he walks a fine line between providing physical coverage and drawing a penalty. It's not that he'll have to sacrifice more space in college, but it may be a matter of Marshall being more succinct with hand placement at the line of scrimmage and limiting slight grabs downfield.
You'd hate for Marshall to inhibit his aggressiveness, but his tenacity does sometimes create unwanted separation when a receiver pulls off a polished double move. Still, he stands to be even more consistent in deep coverage by scaling back just slightly in his quest to cut off routes.
Marshall is a plug-and-play prospect who should compete for significant playing time as a true freshman in 2015. The necessary size, speed and skills are in place to provide rapid ascension on whichever college depth chart he encounters.
There's also a strong chance he'll draw serious looks on special teams as a kick returner and cover man.
He has plenty of options to consider before signing day, but give a slight edge to USC. Marshall has a strong rapport with the program and could reunite with Long Beach teammate John Smith as a Trojan.
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