U.’s team MVP? Grady Marshall is making his mark for No. 9 Utes

14 Aug 2020 admin

first_imgAt the halfway point of the season, the Utah football team has several players who could be called team MVP.Start with quarterback Alex Smith, who has led the Utes with 287 yards of total offense per game and is responsible for 20 touchdowns. Then there’s Marty Johnson,who has rushed for more than 500 yards and receiver Steve Savoy, who has 35 catches for 531 yards. On defense you have linebacker Spencer Toone, who leads the team in tackles and fumble recoveries. Of course there’s senior safety Morgan Scalley, who is tied for the team lead in sacks and interceptions and is unquestionably the team’s leader.But ask coach Urban Meyer who’s been most valuable and you’ll be surprised.”If I had a vote, Grady Marshall’s our MVP.”Grady Marshall?Some Ute fans may have never even heard of Marshall, who isn’t a starter and only ranks 17th on the team in tackles. But to Meyer and the Utes, Marshall is the most “special” player on the team. The junior from Salt Lake is the one Ute who plays on all the special teams and performs his role superbly.”He’s worth 40 yards to us every time he takes the field,” said Meyer. “I love his attitude and the way he shows up every day for work. There’s no speed other than full speed for him and very few guys are like that.”Marshall is the backup to Toone at the rover linebacker spot and has seen some action there this season. It’s on the special teams where he excels, however.He is the captain of the kickoff team, where he is the “missile,”— the one player who goes wherever the ball is. On the kickoff return team he plays on the front row and is responsible for double-teaming one of the opponents.On punting team, Marshall is the “gunner,” who runs full speed down the field and tries to get to the returner at the same time the ball does.On the punt block team, Marshall is simply “7,” a player looks for gaps in the middle of the line in an effort to block punts. That’s his favorite of all the special team positions.”I love special teams,” he said. “My main role is to go out and make plays. I like kickoffs, but punt block is definitely the most exciting.”Marshall has already blocked two punts this year, including one in Saturday’s win over North Carolina that resulted in a safety. Technically, that is a score, but Marshall’s goal is to get a touchdown off a blocked punt.”It’s frustrating sometimes, but I’m hoping to get in the end zone,” he said.After being a part of three state title teams at Skyline High where he was an all-state defensive back in 1998, Marshall went on an LDS mission to Australia. His only scholarship offer was at Ricks College, but when the school turned into BYU-Idaho and dropped athletics, Marshall decided to walk on at Utah.He played on some special teams in 2002 and immediately caught Meyer’s attention when he took over the following spring.”Kyle Whittingham told me he was a difference-maker even though he hadn’t played much,” Meyer said. “I knew as soon as he walked through the door that he was going to play. He’s fast, people don’t give him enough credit. He’s one of our fastest three guys. And he’s a tough kid.”Grady is the son of former football star Steve Marshall, who played for the Utes from 1971-73. His dad is best-known for an interception return for a touchdown in Utah’s incredible fourth-quarter comeback in a 28-27 win over Arizona in 1972 and for taking over at quarterback for injured Don Van Galder in a 62-36 win over Colorado State and setting some school records.”He definitely has input and helps me out,” said Grady of his father, who is a longtime assistant at Skyline. “He gives me tips but mostly leaves it up to the coaches here.”The versatility his father displayed is evident in Grady Marshall’s game. The Ute coaches have tried him on offense and different positions on defense, including safety and linebacker along with all his special teams duties.Meyer says Marshall’s full-speed-ahead approach may hurt him a bit as a defender, where he needs to slow down a bit and play with more patience. But he expects Marshall to be a regular before his career is through as a Ute. And if he does earn a starting spot, Marshall will “absolutely” still play on the special teams as he has for three years, according to his coach. “I just want guys like that on the field,” Meyer said. “I do believe he’ll play for us (as a regular). If he doesn’t, he’s still one of our most valuable players.” E-mail: sor@desnews.comlast_img

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