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June 6, 2012

Marshall moving positions at Challenge

MORE: Five-Star Challenge | Underclassmen Challenge

Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

At first, the talk of changing positions bothered Middletown (Ohio) athlete Jalin Marshall.

He wanted to play quarterback, and he worked hard to hone his skills, but the move to wide receiver was inevitable and he has come to grips with it.

"Now that I am so much older, I think I can deal with it better," he said. "It is part of the process that I have had to embrace."

Marshall, all of 16, talks like a veteran making a career change when talking about his switch to wide receiver. The No. 2-ranked athlete and No. 48 overall player in the Rivals100 will be stepping onto the field at Lakewood Stadium in south Atlanta ready to use his entire skill set at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.

"I still love quarterback, and I still want to work to play that position, but it makes me feel good that people can see I can play all over," Marshall said. "It is a blessing to be among the Top 100 players.

"I get told all the time that I won't be a quarterback, and maybe I won't, but if I can be a receiver and show people my skills that is a blessing."

Marshall has gone through two head coaches in his time at Middletown, moving from a spread offense to a triple-option offense. His learning curve has changed as he changed positions, but he thinks his time under center will help him move to the outside or the slot position.

"I have to read the defense as a quarterback and see where the holes are," he said. "I think I can do that as a receiver and if I can manipulate what they are going to do, that will give me an advantage."

As an Ohio State commit, Marshall will be one of the few skill-position, Big Ten-representatives at the invitation-only event.

It is a responsibility that he takes seriously, and he believes he can showcase the speed it takes to play in the Big Ten.

"I have great vision and speed," Marshall said. "I am very quick, too. I can make people miss and I can make them break down and leave them.

At 6 feet and 190 pounds, Mashall has been clocked in the 4.5 range for his 40-yard dash. He also owns a 35-inch vertical jump.

Those measurables make it understandable why he is projected as a receiver.

"I have had to deal with it my whole life," Marshall said. "It just is what it is, I am blessed to be as athletic as I am and sometimes that is a bit of a curse because I can play receiver.

"It is a path I chose to take and this is what comes with it. I am just going to try to keep showing people what I can do."

Mike Farrell's take

Marshall is a five-star elsewhere, but as a quarterback in high school that projects as a wide receiver, he's going to have to show he's very special to earn that status from Rivals.com. Atlanta is one of his big chances to do so. We've had guys like Early Doucet, Rueben Randle and Derrick Williams who played quarterback in high school but projected elsewhere and all are currently in the NFL or headed that way. For Marshall to reach that elite status as a wide receiver, he will need to be dominant against some amazing cornerbacks and show he has the route-running and ball skills to be that special. He seems up for the task and being a quarterback allows him to know what his signal-caller, Christian Hackenberg, will be looking for out there.

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