By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
A group of future Independence Patriots got a little help from a West Virginia University all-time great Tuesday morning.
Former Mountaineer quarterback Rasheed Marshall was the special guest at the Coal City Youth Football Camp Tuesday at the Coal City Football Field, located at the former Stocco High School.
Elementary school-aged boys and girls rotated through groups, before finally meeting at the 50-yard line, where Marshall instructed them on agility drills, as well as three- and five-step drops.
For Marshall, it was just part of giving back to the state that gave him so much.
“Helping these kids, that’s what it’s all about,” Marshall said. “I was that same kid, out here doing these camps and having someone instruct me. I have been there and done it, so why not come back and play my part.”
It was youth sports that kept Marshall from falling into a possible troubled childhood.
“It was huge for me,” he said. “Coming from where I’m from, there’s a lot going on if you know what I mean. Just having that time to keep me occupied, keep my head on straight and do the right things was big. I wanted to be a part of something.”
Marshall ranks sixth on WVU’s all-time passing yards list and third for rushing yards for a quarterback behind Major Harris and Pat White. Marshall’s 24 QB rushing touchdowns ranks second all-time at WVU behind White.
Marshall finished his WVU career with 5,558 passing yards and 45 touchdowns, while rushing for 2,040, leaving him as one of the Mountaineers’ all-time great quarterbacks.
But when Marshall continued his career in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and eventually the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League, he did so as a wide receiver and a return specialist. It was that adaptability he was preaching to young ears, ready to learn all they could.
“It was good,” Marshall said of the transition. “Fortunately for me, it was not as bad because I was somewhat athletic to make those changes. A lot of guys don’t get to experience (playing after college), and I did. It was fun. Just having that extended opportunity to keep on going, I was fortunate.”
The motivation for the transition came from a childhood role model for Marshall. The Pittsburgh native attended church with all-around athlete for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kordell Stewart.
“It was the same role,” he said. “Receiver, quarter back. He just kind of did it all.”
Going from quarterback to receiver wasn’t the only transition Marshall had an opinion on, including his alma mater’s jump from the Big East to the Big 12. Marshall was the Big East Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2004.
“If you’re forced into a change, you don’t have a choice,” Marshall said of the move. “I think it would’ve been a little different for me. You get used to playing a certain schedule and you switch. It’s totally different. For these guys now starting out, all they know is the Big 12. They don’t know about the Big East. I guess whatever stage you’re at is what the situation depends on.”
It was a former Big East quarterback that Marshall molded his play after — and still watches to this day.
“I’m still a huge Michael Vick fan,” Marshall said of the one-time WVU foe. “Because when I watch him, I think that’s who I molded myself after. That’s what I used to do.”
But when it comes to Vick’s chances to become the New York Jets’ starting quarterback over fellow WVU alum Geno Smith, Marshall wasn’t going to pick sides.
“It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out,” he said. “They’re two different styles, kind of contrasting. But the best guy will win the job. I’m going to be pulling for both — which is kind of insane. I don’t know how it’s going to work. Geno — being a WVU guy — I want to see him succeed, but Vick is a person I’ve been following since my college days. We’ll see how it goes.”
Marshall will wrap up his time at the camp this afternoon.
— E-mail: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.