Marshall making a name for himself

He knew about fifth-year senior Nick Westbrook and his All-Big Ten credentials. He knew about fifth-year senior Donavan Hale and his tantalizing size.

But Kalen DeBoer didn’t quite know what he had in redshirt freshman Miles Marshall.

Veterans such as Westbrook and Hale? They’ve played in big games and made big plays. When DeBoer stepped onto campus in January as Indiana’s new offensive coordinator, those are the players he recognized first as he broke down film and digested scouting reports from his assistants. The younger players? Guys like Marshall? They still have more to prove.

Since the start of spring practice a month ago, Marshall has begun to do exactly that.

The redshirt freshman receiver has been one of the breakout players for IU this spring, using his 6-foot-4 frame to his advantage as a skilled target downfield. For an Indiana offense in need of more explosive plays from its passing game, Marshall looks the part of a player who could help the Hoosiers this fall.

“You watch the one-on-ones, you watch some of the routes he caught in seven-on-seven (and) you are like, ‘Wow, he’s got some range,’” DeBoer said. “He’s long, goes up and gets it. He really played fearless the first couple of practices.”

Really, Marshall has been a standout performer since the second practice of the spring. That’s when he first caught DeBoer’s eye as a receiver with visible upside. In that second practice, Marshall caught a few balls in traffic and used his athleticism to his advantage.

And during Saturday morning’s workout, Marshall was on the receiving end of one of Indiana’s most impressive connections of the day, hauling in a perfectly-placed deep ball from Utah transfer Jack Tuttle.

“(I’m) just getting more comfortable,” Marshall said. “Last year as a freshman, my head was kind of everywhere. I think I’m just more comfortable now, so that’s helping me out.”

A former three-star recruit from Lilburn, Ga., Marshall redshirted his first fall in Bloomington. He saw his only game action in IU’s win at Rutgers on Nov. 29, spending the rest of the season on the travel roster and getting a taste for what was required to crack the two-deep under receivers coach Grant Heard.

“He got to travel,” Heard said. “He got to see (and) be in those game environments, so hopefully in the fall when he gets there it’s not a big shock to him to be in those stadiums and he understands how we prepare on Friday nights for games. Hopefully, as he keeps progressing, that stuff will come in handy for him.”

This spring, Marshall is working his way through DeBoer’s offense, familiarizing himself with different roles and expectations. He’s seeing time both on the outside and in the slot, allowing Indiana to use him in different packages and combinations.

Playing in the slot is nothing new for Marshall, who spent half of his senior year of high school working inside.

“Inside, I get the ball more,” Marshall said. “It’s just different routes and stuff. Outside, you pretty much go against press man (coverage) and stuff. I spent probably about half the time on the inside, so it’s easier to me.”

No matter where he’s lined up, he’s using this spring to his advantage.

Although the offensive system and its terminology are new, Marshall has shown he has the frame and skill set to — literally — be a big target for the Hoosiers in 2019.

And like some of the more established players at his position, Marshall is making sure his new coordinator knows his name.

“There’s a lot of things that are happening right now, so he’s not playing quite as fast, but the potential he has is exciting,” DeBoer said. “The last couple practices, he’s used every day as a teaching moment in getting better, no doubt about it.”

17 comments

  1. It would be great if Marshall fully develops and plays this coming season giving IU more depth and quality receivers. I hope Whop is doing well and gets back to his top form by the season staying healthy all season. We need Tuttle to be cleared to play and have Penix healthy by June 1st so he can develop connections with the receivers before Fall camp.

    IUFB has been so snake bit over the years it would be nice to have everything fall in place for 2019.

  2. V. It would be enjoyable and relaxing if the stars were all aligned for IU football and everything wasn’t such a struggle 2019 season (and some seasons to come).

  3. I keep looking at the schedule and wondering how IU is going win more than four games in 2019. If we’re to win more than that, we’re going to have to upset two very good teams. Having a “big play” offense and sneaking up on a team or two would help a lot. It’s time for IU to have a little good fortune.

    1. Po,
      I know I won’t get an argument from you on this, but the equation for more wins is no different than it has been for the last two season. You have to have a QB capable of getting those wins, and up to this point, IUFB has not had even close to that part of the equation. The defense should be more experienced this coming season, but it will still be up to the offense to get enough points. I don’t care who the QB is, but if he can’t force the defense out of 8, 9, or 10 men in the box, not going to get the wins.

      IUFB does not yet have enough talent to overpower B1G defenses who are putting everybody at the line of scrimmage. No different that IUBB, don’t care how good your skill players are, if you can’t force the defense to cover more territory better spacing the field/floor . . .

      1. I can’t really speak for Tuttle because I haven’t seen it yet, but B1G defenses won’t stack the box with Penix at the pivot. Penix would have a field day picking apart a single high safety defense with IU’s current receiving corps.

        Has IU ever had a WR room this deep? Nick Westbrook, Donovan Hale, Ty Fryfogle, Reese Taylor, Whop Philyor, Jacolby Hewitt, and Miles Marshall. You have to like DeBoer’s comments about Marshall. From a pass catching view, the TE position is looking pretty solid as well with Hendershot and Ivy looking like potential matchup nightmares.

        IU is getting more talented and deeper every year. They WILL compete in the B1G very soon. Again I’m not promising that 2019 will be their year, but the arrow is certainly pointing up IMO. My money is on 2020 being that “Breakthrough” year but 2019 should at the very least, show signs of serious life on both sides of the ball.

        1. fishspinners I agree with you about 2020 being the year to really breakthrough but I hope 2019 shows IU can upset teams that they haven’t in the past. A lot depends on our OL and which QB is the starter.

      2. thinkaboutit, it will be up to the OL and having Tuttle or Penix as the QB to punish B1G defenses.

    2. Po, IU does need to start beating teams above them to have a winning season this coming year. Having Tuttle or Penix at QB will go along way to make that happen.

  4. 5 wins means beating Maryland at Maryland. Win 6 means either at Purdue, at Michigan State, at Nebraska or against Northwestern who will probably start the #1 prospect in the country from 2017 at quarterback. Any of those wins will be upsets. IU could be better and go 4-8.

    1. 123, you are on the money about IU needing to beat those teams and even PSU, UM, and OSU; at least one or two of them. Listening to DeBoer in interviews he has the hops to have our offense believe in scoring and beating teams. It will be up to the OL but they have thee size and strength to be a good OL along with an OC that will help them out.

      1. V13,
        I agree the OL will be key in the matter, but can we not also say the QB play has a lot to do with how well the OL does their job. I know there were major problems the last season for the OL which were created by poor QB play. I think you spoke to that several times that how the QB was doing his job was making the OL’s job a whole lot tougher.

        1. I agree better QB play will improve our OL; I hope this coming year our QB enhances the offense instead of hurting the offense.

  5. As to the 2019 schedule: In the non-conf. games, Ball St. again (at Indianapolis) and UVa and Fla. International are replaced by UConn and E. Ill. If anything that’s softer, but as we all know there are no easy wins for IUFB. Conference-wise, Nebraska and N’western replace Iowa and Minn. Certainly N’western is a tougher cookie for IUFB to crumble. Nebraska was horrible at the beginning of 2018, but seemed to right the ship later in the season. But I can’t say that Nebraska is anything IU should be particularly afraid of. So I think 2019 is a little tougher schedule, but certainly not gloom and doom.

    In 2020 W. Ky. replaces E. Ill. then UW and Ill. replace Neb. and N’western. Not much difference there, either.

    1. D,
      I agree with you and many that the schedule is tougher, but not insurmountable. The key will be whether or not the offense is one dimensional again this year. Simply cannot have opposing defenses with no fear of your ability to go downfield.

      The only other thing I see is the continuing B1G insanity of playing too many conference games. That needs to be fixed immediately or the B1G will continue to suffer.

  6. The 2019 schedule isn’t tremendously tougher than usual but where the games are played is a tougher row to hoe. I still hope IU can improve this year so they can knock off a couple of teams they aren’t expected to beat.

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