B/R Exclusive: 5-Star DB Iman Marshall Reveals How He Picked Schools to Visit

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystAugust 21, 2014

Credit: 247Sports

The frenzied recruitment of 5-star defensive back Iman Marshall includes dozens of college football programs across the country. Despite dealing with nationwide attention, the Southern California standout has played things close to the vest throughout this process.

That changed Thursday, when the Long Beach Poly High School senior declared his intentions to spend official visits at five campuses:

The announcement comes with a significant caveat, as Marshall hasn't yet made up his mind about one visit. He's asking fans to weigh in on whether Texas or Oklahoma is the right destination to complete his cross-country itinerary.

"Texas and Oklahoma are both known as top programs, so that made it really hard for me to pick one or the other," Marshall said. "Guys are always looking for different ways to make the recruiting process a little more interesting, and I thought this would be a cool thing to do. I'm bringing in the fanbases to help me out."

Followers of the Sooners and Longhorns had already poured in their opinions less than an hour after Marshall's tweet.

"Oh yeah, I've heard from a lot of people," he said. "It should he fun to see the reasons they come up with for me to make the trip."

Though Marshall doesn't know exactly when he'll determine which Big 12 rival will receive an official visit, his plan is to decide soon in order to arrange a jam-packed travel schedule.

"I have dates in mind for these visits, but I need to get them locked in," Marshall said.

Though the particulars remain a mystery, he is definitely headed to Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU and Florida State. Marshall, the top-rated cornerback in 247Sports' composite rankings, explained his rationale for each choice.

Notre Dame stood out due to its distinguished football history. However, Marshall maintains a future with the Fighting Irish is also alluring due to off-field aspirations.

"I think a degree from Notre Dame could really set me up well for a post-football career," he said. "The tradition there is also pretty amazing, and that certainly caught my interest. Coach [Brian] Kelly is one of the best, so I'm looking forward to that one."

The Irish have done a nice job fortifying a strong defensive front seven but could use an infusion of elite talent in the back end. Notre Dame flipped former Michigan commit Shaun Crawford, a 4-star cornerback, in June.

The Wolverines are still in search of his replacement, and Marshall would certainly fit the bill. It's another school that warrants respect for past accomplishments, according to the coveted defender.

"The legacy of that team is known, and a degree from Michigan can take you places," he said. "There's a lot to like about Michigan."

One of those things is the presence of true freshman Jabrill Peppers, who was considered one of the nation's top 2014 prospects and should make an immediate impact in the Wolverines' defensive backfield.

"Playing with Peppers would be crazy," Marshall said. "That would be something special."

His excitement also piques when he imagines pairing up with 5-star LSU commit Kevin Toliver. They competed together at The Opening last month and are viewed as the consensus top two cornerback recruits in this class.

"Toliver is a great athlete, and he's very competitive like me," Marshall said. "We could make some serious noise down there."

They would also continue a tradition of high-level play in the Tigers secondary, which has thrived under the direction of defensive coordinator John Chavis.

"LSU is known as 'DBU' for a reason," he said. "They send a lot of defensive backs to the league, which is important to me. It's a place where I feel like I could really develop and polish my skills."

Marshall would excel in a press-coverage setting that allows his aggressiveness to shine. The 6'1", 190-pound playmaker implements physicality as a key part of coverage.

"Receivers really have to fight to get open against him because he always seems to be on the attack," 5-star Alabama quarterback pledge Blake Barnett said at The Opening. "He's pretty fearless. That definitely doesn't make it easy on us quarterbacks."

While LSU jumps out as a top option in the southeast, Marshall also identifies Florida State as a place that perennially produces NFL prospects.

"Jimbo Fisher has a track record of developing guys and putting them in position to reach the next level," he said. "They could have three defensive backs enter the draft next year."

Of course, there's also another edge the Seminoles hold over teams.

"They're the defending national champions, so that's something everyone should be interested in," Marshall said.

Florida State currently claims commitments from 4-star defensive backs Tyrek Cole and Calvin Brewton, along with top-ranked safety Derwin James. The Seminoles would solidify a strong secondary foundation for years to come by reeling in Marshall from across the country.

Though he listed six possible landing spots today, Marshall isn't limiting things to just this group. Stanford, UCLA and USC remain major contenders.

"I'm very interested in those three California schools, but I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to see what the rest of the country has to offer," he said. "I only have five official visits to use, and I didn't want to waste any here on the West Coast."

Experts agree he's likely to end up staying close to home. Prognosticators pick USC to sign him in 100 percent of 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions.

Marshall, who didn't allow a single pass completion in league action last season, was named to the USA Today All-USA Preseason Team on Thursday. His senior season begins Aug. 30 against Crenshaw.

All quotes obtained firsthand by B/R national recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.

Ratings courtesy of 247Sports.


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