Navy's Marshall more than just a football player

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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)

Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley
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Notre Dame had seven players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and UCLA on the weekend tally. But after the draft finished, the Irish had five more players get their shot at playing on Sundays.

Chris Brown signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Romeo Okwara will begin his career with the New York Giants. Matthias Farley and Amir Carlisle signed contracts with the Arizona Cardinal. Elijah Shumate agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After missing two seasons, Ishaq Williams will be at Giants rookie camp next weekend as well, working as a tryout player. Expect Jarrett Grace to receive similar opportunities.

Count me among those that thought both Brown and Okwara would hear their names called. Brown’s senior season, not to mention his intriguing measureables, had some projecting him as early as the fifth round.

Okwara, still 20 years old and fresh off leading Notre Dame in sacks in back-to-back seasons, intrigued a lot of teams with his ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He’ll get a chance to make the Giants—the team didn’t draft a defensive end after selecting just one last year, and they’re in desperate need of pass rushers.

Both Shumate and Farley feel like contenders to earn a spot on rosters, both because of their versatility and special teams skills. Shumate played nickel back as a freshman and improved greatly at safety during 2015. Farley bounced around everywhere and was Notre Dame’s special teams captain.

Carlisle might fit a similar mold. He played running back, receiver and returned kicks and punts throughout his college career. With a 4.4 during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, he likely showed the Cardinals enough to take a shot, and now he’ll join an offense with Michael Floyd and Troy Niklas.

 

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

Demetris Robertson
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Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.

“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”

Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.

Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
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Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.