Jan. 20, 2015
Sammie Coates, left, makes a move on his old quarterback, Nick Marshall, during Senior Bowl special teams practice
By Charles Goldberg
MOBILE, Ala. — Nick Marshall says the play he'll remember most is throwing that long touchdown pass to Ricardo Louis that beat Georgia two years ago, a play that will live in Auburn football lore.
"But I'm starting a new adventure now," Marshall says.
Nick Marshall, the quarterback who threw it, is now Nick Marshall, a defensive back who will try to impress pro scouts in the Senior Bowl this week. He says he made his decision to switch positions Tuesday morning. By Tuesday afternoon, after a quick jersey change before practice began, he was at defensive back.
"Everybody knows I like to go against the best in order to be the best," he said.
Oh, Marshall has played the position before. He was a cornerback at Georgia his freshman year. But he resurfaced as an All-American junior college quarterback and then led Auburn to the BCS title game in 2013 playing quarterback. He set Auburn's single-game passing and total offense record against Alabama in 2014.
His last two games at QB? He hit 42-of-65 passes for 673 yards and five touchdowns. He passed for almost 4,500 yards in just two years, and ran for almost 2,000 more. He led Auburn to five fourth-quarterback comeback victories. But he said he thinks his future in the NFL is on defense.
"I believe this is the best fit for me," Marshall said.
Marshall grabbed the headlines the early Senior Bowl headlines on a day in which five fellow Tigers took the field. Joining Marshall were running back Cameron Artis-Payne, center Reese Dismukes, receiver Sammie Coates, defensive lineman Gabe Wright and receiver C.J. Uzomah.
Artis-Payne said it was "definitely a little weird to see" Marshall on defense.
"He's been my quarterback for two years, so I'm used to him playing that role."
But there he was, on defense.
"It went well today," Marshall said. "There are just a couple of things I have to brush up on. It's going to be a challenge for me to switch from quarterback to defensive back, but I'm willing to accept that challenge."
The Jacksonville Jaguars' coaching staff, who is coaching the South team, received a crash course in Nick Marshall as he changed his jersey from quarterback yellow to defensive back orange.
Did he play quarterback at junior college? Yes. Was he ready to play defensive back Tuesday? Yes. Did the equipment staff even have time to put a number on his new jersey? No.
Number or no number, playing DB, "came back to me naturally," said Marshall, who added he'll be OK once he remembers the techniques he used at Georgia.
"I can do what I put my mind to," he said.
As far as quarterback goes, "I'm going to miss it. But I'm going to have fun on the defensive side of the ball, too."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: