Catching Up With Jamal Marcus: Committed

By Jeremy Birmingham on February 4, 2012 at 8:30p
This Relationship Made a DifferenceEverett Withers courted Marcus at UNC and wanted him at OSU

If you would have tried to put pen to paper two months ago and make a prediction as to how Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class would wind up, it likely would have been a far cry from the results we saw on signing day.

Sure, you might have been able to pencil in Adolphus Washington or Se'Von Pittman as Buckeyes, but the majority of the class are players that were not on the Buckeye radar on November 26th.

Perhaps no player was more "off the radar" for Buckeye fans, and most of college football fans than Jamal Marcus from Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina. Honestly, his obscurity doesn't make a lot of sense, because when you combine his list of scholarship offers with his spectacular highlight tape, you'd imagine that Marcus would have been one of the most sought after LB prospects in the class of 2012.

With offers from Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Notre Dame, USC and more, it's hard to imagine you'd go unnoticed, but he did - at least to the average fan. Heck, even his future head coach says he had only first heard of him two weeks ago (which might be hyperbole, since Marcus was offered by Ohio State in early December, about a week after Meyer's hiring.) Because of his lack of hype, Jamal finds himself as a three-star prospect according to most of the recruiting agencies, but again - that highlight tape and the offer list speaks of a much more highly regarded prospect than people will admit to.

Now, two months after his first conversation with the current Buckeye staff, the 6'2", 230 pound QB-chasing linebacker finds himself signed, sealed and delivered to Ohio State, ready to make his mark on the Buckeye program if the chance presents itself. With purported 4.6 speed, Marcus will bring tenacity and lateral quickness to a Buckeye linebacking group that was thin and at times underwhelming in 2011. 

I had a chance to have a conversation with Jamal last night, and it's easy to see that he fits the bill as to what Urban and the coaches are looking for: he's respectful, polite and intense. His competitive fire was unmistakable, even on the telephone. He's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder from the perceived lack of recognition, and that fuel will keep his fire burning through his time in Columbus in my opinion. 

Join us after the jump for more on my conversation with Jamal Marcus, 2012 Ohio State Buckeye signee.

It’s official.  You’re a Buckeye. What was the deciding factor that pushed Ohio State to the top of your list?

I had to go home and put pieces together with my family.  Knowing Coach Meyer’s resume, knowing he would make me better and that he wins. I’d get to play with some of the best players in the country at Ohio State.

When did you know that Ohio State was your final choice?

I had known Sunday that Ohio State was the place I wanted to go, but I needed to just make sure and we waited until Wednesday to announce it.

When did you let the coaching staff know and how did they react?

Excited, told me they were looking forward to getting me on campus and seeing what I could do.

Which coach was responsible for your recruitment the “most”?

Coach Fickell was my recruiting  coach. He’s a great coach, been in the program for a long time.  UNC was recruiting me when Coach Withers was there, so  I think that he might have had something to do with it. 

How did it feel to hear that Coach Meyer singled out your highlight tape as “ridiculous” in his signing day press conference?

It felt great. I felt that I was finally recognized for something that I felt I should have been recognized for a while ago. It’s all the motivation I need to know that I need ball out hard when I get there to live up his expectations.

Has the staff told you what position they see you getting the first shot at?

Outside linebacker, either the SAM or the WILL, but on the outside. 

Ohio State has a great history at the linebacker position, does that inspire you to become one of the "next" great ones?

Ohio State’s linebacker history motivates me to continue it. I feel like I can get on the field anywhere in the country. I just want to compete and show that I belong.

So Buckeye fans know you’re a “real” guy, what do you like to do off the field for fun? Video games? Movies? Karaoke??

I don’t karaoke, haha. I like to hang out with my friends, work out and play basketball if I am not doing stuff for football.

If you had one message to tell Buckeye fans who are anxious to see you on the field next year, what would you like me to tell them?

That I am on my way and I can't wait to be there, and we’re (the class of 2012) going to bring Ohio State back to greatness in the near future.



Comments Show All Comments

PharmBuck's picture

Love this kid. Think I have a new favorite player.

"You're pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got 9 guys who better go do it again," said Meyer. "Do it a little harder next time."

tennbuckeye19's picture

Huge Jamal Marcus fan here. I love that he's gonna play with a chip on his shoulder from not getting respect with his ranking. Can't wait to see him in the Scarlet & Gray!

The Vest-er's picture

I'm not a great evaluator of talent, but to me you have 15-25 players that are clearly five star players (with measurables to match) and the rest are a bit of a toss up. Not too much difference between a 3 or 4 star player and his work ethic at the collegiate level will determine his success. I guess that's why you see these 3 stars with a chip on their shoulder blossom. Any insight Jeremy/Alex?

Fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

It's hard to evaluate everyone evenly because most people play at different levels of competition, different areas of the country, etc.

When you look at Jamal's tape you see things that translate no matter what - speed, aggression, instinct, etc. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he's PLENTY big and plenty fast to be a dynamite LB in the B1G and beyond. 

Brian Rolle would KILL to be his size. If Jamal can bring that same of feeling of "having something to prove" to OSU that BRolle did, he could have a VERY good career.

The other thing is: college isn't just about football. It's about who you are off the field, and Jamal seems like a kid with a good head on his shoulders who wants to make something of himself and is not just using football as a way to get to the NFL.

LouGroza's picture

Looks like a man among boys in the highlights. Glad he's a Buckeye. Would not enjoy watching that knowing otherwise.

PWLafferty. TBDBITL. TRow.'s picture

Correct me if I'm wrong, but James Laurinaitis was a 3-star, no?  I'm clearly being overly optimistic, but hey, with what Urban did in about a month's time, why shouldn't we be? Buckssssss

"I'm up there with Chris and Dave Pass, getting ready to broadcast that game, and that band came out of that tunnel, I was wiping tears out of my eyes and all the memories came back." ~Urban Meyer

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Malcolm Jenkins was a "three star". Laurinaitis was. Heck, didn't even HAVE a ranking for Nick Mangold. The rankings are a good indicator of future successes, but they can't account for things like drive, passion and motivation. They also don't know when a kid hasn't really "peaked" yet, and Lil' Animal and Jenkins are perfect examples of guys who got better as they grew.

3yardsandacloudofdust's picture

same with AJ Hawk...3*

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I've watched this video 3 times and I can't believe this kid is rated only a 3 star!  I'm glad he got overlooked by everybody else because this kid is a freakin beast!!! He has some unbelievable leg strength and just pushes through the line like they weren't even there.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

themostbrian's picture

He wasn't overlooked by anybody who matters - Just look at his offer sheet. Florida, Auburn, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

True about the teams that knew - I'm just shocked at the medicore star rating...

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

PhillyBuckeye's picture

Very fast off the line. Can't wait to see him on the field!

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Shazier + Marcus = has the potential to be almost unfair to opposing offenses.

Dean's picture

Jamal Marcus plays like he's cheating at Madden.  It's insane.

dubjayfootball90's picture

i had a mouthful of french toast, and read your reply, and I almost started choking cuz I was laughing so hard..... @$$, haha

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

DefendYoungstown's picture

With this guy and SHAZR backing up the D-Line, it's going to get ugly quickly for opposing offenses...

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

Northbrook's picture

Some of these young guys will play this comming season. I'm not betting against Marcus. 

Nice job Jeremy.

Abe Froman's picture

He needs to remember that "3" star ranking.  I only made it about halfway through and surmised that he plays angry and definitely knows how to run through tackles. 

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

bassplayer7770's picture

Welcome to Buckeye Nation, Jamal.

gravey's picture

Star ratings are crap.  When you see half the major programs in the country have offered this dude, you know Scout and Rivals aren't doing their job.  If I had a basement, I'd get in it and develop another star rating system based on offers and distance and some other fancy variables.

Poison nuts's picture

Damn I love this recruiting class!

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

OurHonorDefend09's picture

Recruiting stars do mean something, as in you don't see Akron winning championships, let alone MAC championships with 2 and 3 star talent recruits. HOWEVER, just because a guy is a 4 or 5 star doesn't mean he is going to be successful. This is either due to their skill not panning out (maurice wells), or because they can't stay out of trouble (jaamal berry). 

People just need to see these stars as "potential at the time of evaluation". I will agree that after watching Marcus's tape, his "potential" is underevaluated by the scouts. I do think this will work out for the best though, a la the previous studs mentioned who were 3 stars.

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

nickma71's picture

This is either due to their skill not panning out (maurice wells), or because they can't stay out of trouble (jaamal berry).


You know what else they have in common?





BobbyBuckeye33's picture

this kid looks very promising. cant wait to see Shazier, Grant, and Marcus tear up the B1G!

Go Bucks! :)

John 3:16..........Be Love, Go Bucks <3

painterlad's picture

Holy crap that dude is fast!


To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

3technique's picture

This kid can play! When he hits people he explodes through them like Chris Speilman.. I cannot see him not on the field.. These three LBs since Urb took over are like storm troopers! All close to about the same size with speed to burn.. Having the Dline that is in place will make these guys successful from day one!! That film on him IS Rediculous!!!

btalbert25's picture

I can't see the kid using his 3 star rating from recruiting services as motivation to be a better college player.  No one undervalued this kid.  The best teams in the country were fighting for him.  I don't think star ratings are garbage really, I just think the difference between a 3 star and 5 star may not be as big as folks think.  A guy may be a 3 star because he's just not reached his potential yet.  Some guys are going to be 5 star simply because of their size and speed.  Other guys may be rated a 3 or 4 star simply because they don't have the freakish size or speed figures as other guys.  There are so many kids playing high school football that it's impossible for the recruiting services to get it right with them all. 

You'll always have those diamond in the rough guys like Hawk, Mangold, or Jenkins.  Some guys just don't get recognized.  Marcus, clearly is not one of those guys.  A lot of schools know he's a special talent and were dying to have him.  

nickma71's picture

The video is kind of like watching the Waterboy. To find fault....which isn't easy, he arm tackles up high a lot. But that is a sign of upper body strength and he can get away with it. His technique will improve with coaching. And that is about it on negatives. A good thing I noticed is when he is blocked, he didn't just push through them. He was able to shake off the defender. That is very important. He won't be able to just run through people. He has the speed needed to run around, and often, but it won't be every time. He looks good at getting off the blocks. I know, there isn't many times where they had him, and he had to get off the block because he avoided it in the first place.

nickma71's picture

Joey Oconnor is a 3 star on And in the ESPN 150 at the same time. Yet, Scout has 4 Buckeyes as 5 star, and 11 as a 4 star, where as yahoo (buckeye haters) have 2 5 stars. I don't take it too serious, I look at the list of offers also.

btalbert25's picture

I don't really see Rivals(yahoo) rankings biased against the Buckeyes.  They've had several top 5 or top 10 classes in the Rivals rankings over the years.  Rivals doesn't hand out 5 star ratings to kids the way scout does.  If you have a class on rivals with 2 or more 5 stars, it's a pretty special class.  After Diggs makes his announcement the Bucks could have 3 rivals 5 star players which is a monster class on Rivals ratings.

Also, Buckeye commit ratings have improved on Rivals even after committing.  Adolphus Washington was a 4 star for most of his recruiting process.  The final rivals rankings came out(after he committed to the Buckeyes) and he actually climbed in the rankings and was awarded a 5th star.

Following the different recruiting sites, I've always kind of thought that rivals rankings were the best myself.  It's not to say they are always correct or spot on, but in general, I feel like they are usually more correct about players than the others. 

nickma71's picture

The rankings aren't biased. I was just pointing out OSU is hated by yahoo sports. 4 and 5 stars don't mean as much as who is recruiting him.