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Navy's Marshall more than just a football player

Nov 5, 2009, 12:00 PM EST

While most Navy football players might lack a Rivals.com recruiting profile, they certainly aren’t lacking when it comes to character, background, and accomplishments. While we’ll hear plenty about this group of over-achieving, under-sized, disciplined competitors this Saturday, I thought Cameron Marshall deserved some extra mention. Marshall may not make much of an impact this Saturday as a special teams player and third string defensive end, but his story definitely bears repeating. 

At 26, Marshall is the oldest player on the Navy roster. The fact that he’s even on the football team is amazing. As a high school senior in the autumn of 2001, he watched the events of 9/11 unfold on television. The very next day he signed up at the Marine Corps recruiting office, and three days after graduation he was off to the Marine Corp Recruiting Depot in San Diego.

Camille Powell of the Washington Post profiled Marshall after Navy’s opening game against Ohio State, where he was selected by his teammates to carry the American flag onto the field.

The choice was obvious. Who should lead the Navy football team onto the
field inside a packed Ohio Stadium last Saturday afternoon, proudly
holding the American flag aloft? Senior Cameron Marshall, of course.
The special teams player and third-string defensive end. The
26-year-old former Marine sergeant.


“It’s an immense honor,” Marshall said. “Holding that flag — it feels like you’re holding the country in your hands.”


Marshall does not say that lightly. He spent four years in the Marine
Corps and served two tours in Iraq before attending the Naval Academy.
About 7 percent of the brigade is “prior enlisted,” or has already
served in the Navy, Marine Corps, Army Reserve or Air National Guard.
Marshall is the only one on the football team.

That experience has made him one of the leaders of the Midshipmen
(0-1), who host Louisiana Tech on Saturday. For Marshall, football and
the military are inextricably tied together. Football prepared him for
the Marines. He helps his teammates understand what lies ahead for them
after the academy.

“Some people hesitate and cringe whenever you draw parallels from
football to combat,” Marshall said. “While I see their point, I think
that it’s irresponsible not to acknowledge the similarities between
them. I think America fights its wars like its football games. We love
the tactics; we love big force-on-force battles. . . .

“There’s certainly a reason why General [George C.] Marshall said:
‘I’m looking for a man for a secret and dangerous mission. I’m looking
for a West Point football player.’ Football is how we train young men
for battle, whether we like to admit it or not.”

Keep an eye out for number 48 this weekend. You’ll be watching a true warrior on the field.

(H/T: DD)

  1. west coast domer - Nov 5, 2009 at 1:34 PM

    Great post. Memo to those that pile on ND for scheduling the service academies: This is why they do it…..the academies get IT and ND honors them for it.

  2. sharkey - Nov 5, 2009 at 7:14 PM

    @ westcoast domer: I agree with you. I for one am so very tired of fans,sports writers, and colleges treating college football as a minor/farm league for the NFL. Collegiate sports are supposed to be about training students about life lessons through competition, sacrifice, dedication…etc. These are every bit as important as winning. If colleges would truly understand this, then the term “student athlete” would have it’s origional meaning. While I have nothing against wining at all costs,let me be the star, or everyone look at me, that attitude should be reserved for the pros who get paid millions to bring home trophies. College should be about a lot more. with all this in place, winning becomes even more enjoyable when honor is involved.

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