Saturday, August 09, 2014

Lofty praise for UConn's Marriner

After hearing Bob Diaco heap as much praise on Josh Marriner at American Athletic Conference media day as any other player I recall him talking about I knew the redshirt freshman running back from Chesapeake, Virginia was a player I wanted to write a feature on. I was happy that he was one of the players made available to the media after Wednesday's practice.

As I did some research on him, I came away even more impressed. I knew he was a top-notch long jumper and triple jumper in high school who was talented enough to compete in the New Balance National Championships and Penn Relays.Doing a little more checking I saw that his father is a highly-decorated pastor in Virginia who has won a myriad of "man of the year" type awards.

I reached out to Greg Gibson, who coached Marriner during his final season at Western Branch High School and was glad that I did because he provided some pretty amazing insight into not only Marriner's physical gifts but also his character as well.

Here is a quote that due to space limitations I was not able to get into the feature I filed on him for tomorrow's paper that I thought people would love.

"Here is why you want him on your football team. he is one of those kids that when you are at your big dinners when your big boosters and alumni are writing those big-time checks, he is the kid up front talking and being at that three-piece suit. When he gets done talking they say 'he is the type of kid that you have on this football team? How much do you want?'"

There's so much more.

"He was one of those kids that all of his teammates rallied around, really wanted to play extra hard for him because of the work he put in. He was one of the kids who, he was also a track star on top of being a football guy and he would be in the middle of track season, get done with a workout, he comes in and starts to workout with me doing some football ability drills inside the football complex. Guys knew he got done doing a full track workout and he is doing football stuff. He is that kind of leader and kid that just had an unbelievable work ethic and a great kid too. He was somebody you never had to worry about getting into trouble, just impeccable character guy in top of being a phenomenal football player. He is fast, elusive, strong so he can run through guys, he can run around guys but what I think made him so special and set him apart from other kids is all the intangible things in terms of character, leadership abilities and the way our kids wanted to block for him because they knew the type of guy that he was.

"He was a 500-pound plus squat guy for us in high school and a 300-pound bencher, a 300-pound power clean, he was one of the strongest kids on our team as our tailback and we had some strong kids. He is a legitimate, we were 9-3 as a football team so we had some strong kids but he was a cut above as far as his strength and work. It is Thursday the day before a game and he is box squatting reps of 550 pounds and he turns around 24 hours later and carries the ball 25 times for 200-plus yards. He is a special kid, he comes from a great family. You can tell that he tells that he comes from a really strong family and that is how we carries himself with a lot of genuine humility. That kind of translates to pulling people around him and people willing to do things for him."

You can check the Register's site later today for the feature which includes Gibson's thoughts on UConn picking up a player that he told former Husky assistant coach Darrell Perkins 'you are going to get the steal of the whole Eastern seaboard.' Gibson, who coached in California before moving to Virginia also said that if Marriner was a player in California he would have received around 8-10 offers from Pac-12 schools.

First news hit that BYU's leading rusher Jamaal Williams will be suspended for the Aug. 29 game against UConn and now comes word that the Cougars will be without another key offensive player as wide receiver Nick Kurtz has a stress fracture in his left foot and is expected to be out for the next 6-8 weeks. Kurtz is a 6-foot-6 junior who was one of the top junior-college receivers in the nation a season ago.



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