USC cornerback Iman Marshall has lived in the shadow of Adoree’ Jackson for two seasons. Now the junior is primed for the spotlight in 2017.
Sicker than your average cornerback, Iman “Biggie” Marshall has been the unsung hero of the secondary for USC Football, largely over shadowed by the dynamic plays and highlight reel moments of former Trojan turned Tennessee Titan, Adoree’ Jackson.
Marshall has been a defensive stalwart since he set foot on campus in 2015. As a true freshman Marshall started 12 games and racked up 67 tackles, which was third on the team. He combined that with a team high three interceptions and also led the Trojans with nine pass break ups.
Then, in 2016 while the college football world was hypnotized by Jackson’s sensational sideline interceptions and Irish-hurdling returns, Marshall was cranking out another hit season. Once again going largely unnoticed by those not in and around USC, he posted 51 tackles, eight pass break ups and three interceptions.
Jackson, garnered the majority of the attention while on campus, and rightfully so. Jackson is one the most electrifying players to come through USC since the late great Joe McKnight. Jackson is now a Titan though, and the USC secondary needs someone to step up and take on the challenge of locking up the opponent’s best receiver.
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The good news is, the man who USC has relied on to stop the opponent’s top receiving threat in 2016 hasn’t turned pro yet.
The 2017 season is not a year for Marshall to “come into his own” or “make the leap.” He will just be doing more of the same, which is being a great cornerback.
Defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford expects the same:
"“I think Marshall does a good job. As a matter of fact, people always assume we were always putting Adoree’ on the other team’s best receiver. That’s what everybody always assumes. That’s not always the case. Go look at a couple NFL games, they don’t always put their best corner on their best receiver. It wasn’t always the best receiver we stuck [Adoree’] on. Marshall’s the kind of player that whatever we give him from a responsibility standpoint, he’s always stepped into it and never shied away from it. [Against Washington] people assumed that John Ross was the threat, the other kid [Dante Pettis] was playing just as well as he was.”"
It was Marshall’s job to shut down Pettis, who finished that game with two catches for only 22 yards, as USC notched its first signature win of the season and continued to march on towards the Rose Bowl.
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That is all in the past now, the new season is only a few weeks away. This is a new USC team, with new faces and higher aspirations.
One thing is clear though, Marshall’s time in the sun has finally arrived at USC. His incredible ball skills and underrated run support will finally garner the national attention they deserve.
The junior DB is on the Thorpe Award watch list and is ranked 16th on NFL.Com’s CFB 24/7 list of top 50 college football players in 2017.
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Is he up to the task? If you’ve been paying attention, you already know the answer is, of course. He’s been doing it since day one.