Over the past few years, the University of Georgia has produced many star-caliber NFL players that thrive at the next level, but no position seems to carry a more significant difference than the running back position. Of course the noticeable backs from the University of Georgia are Todd Gurley, Herschel Walker, Garrison Hearst, and Knowshon Moreno, but their current backs create more buzz than any in team history.
Star backs like Nick Chubb, Sony Michael, and Keith Marshall led the Bulldogs this past season, but many questions remain with extremely talented running back Keith Marshall who couldn’t seem to put it all together.
A highly recruited running back from North Carolina, Marshall came to UGA with expectations to become a dangerous duo with fellow North Carolina native Todd Gurley. Recording 117 carries for 759 yards and eight touchdowns in his freshman year, Marshall began to look as future star until he injured his knee midway into his sophomore season.
His junior year proved to be devastating when he tried to recover to quickly and sat out after three games. During his senior season he shared playing time with Sony Michael and rushed for 350 yards on 68 carries.
Arm Length: 31 5/8″
Hands: 9 3/8″
40-yard dash: 4.31 seconds
Bench Press: 25 reps
Vertical Jump: 30.5″
If there was one thing UGA was able to do in school history, it was run the ball. Keith Marshall is one of the more mentally advanced backs in college football because of his down field vision and ability to make defenders miss at any point when he has the ball. He challenges defenders to break down and technically tackle him. His feet are always moving and he never truly gets “stuck in the mud” when caught in a conjunction. Once he sees an open hole, he changes gears and hits full-speed with his great speed.
In the NFL, Marshall will be most effective in a zone-blocking scheme giving him the ability to use his great vision and explode through holes. There aren’t many players who have breakaway speed like Marshall and he adds a physical toughness to his game despite being injured for most of his career. It’s hard to not notice his upper body strength when he pushes defenders away and also the fact that he bench pressed 25 reps at the combine is something that many scouts will take notice.
Being hurt for most of his career is something that some teams may not be able to overlook. Suffering from lingering knee injuries, Marshall has been somewhat of a shell of his freshman year. At times, he is a bit hesitant in his cuts and breaks because of his knee and didn’t have that much explosion with only a 30.5 inch vertical. There isn’t much film for teams to evaluate off of which puts Marshall on mysterious position as far as rankings among teams. He may never be a stable number one back because of his inability to continue a consistent streak of good performances.
Not a powerful runner as Todd Gurley or current bulldog Nick Chubb which may result in him becoming more than a third down back. He has very few reps as an pass-catcher out of backfield and when the opportunity comes he doesn’t show great route running ability, especially when cutting in and out of his breaks. There isn’t much to create a base ground for his potential other than his freshman season which might cause him to fall down draft boards.
Draft Projection: 5th – 6th rounder/depth back
Marshall is a perfect example of what could have been but it seems that most team may have to go off of potential rather than proven tape.