Jalin Marshall knows there have been a lot of skeptics about his decision to declare for the NFL draft and forego his final two years of eligibility at Ohio State, but he’s motivated to prove the doubters wrong.
Less than two weeks before the draft, the Middletown High School graduate said he thinks he answered some of the questions his hometown pro team might have had about his NFL-readiness Tuesday during the Cincinnati Bengals’ local player workout at Paul Brown Stadium.
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Marshall, a two-year wide receiver and return man for the Buckeyes, put on a solid display during the hour-long event, particularly during punt return drills when he caught every ball sent his way. He was one of 30 players — either from Cincinnati-area high schools or colleges — participating.
“I think it went well,” said Marshall, one of five local high school products at the workout, joined by fellow Middies Cody Quinn (Kentucky) and D.J. Hunter (Marshall) and Fairfield grad Marquise Vann (Connecticut). “I got to show a little more up close and personal route-running, and I think I did well catching punts. I caught every punt, so I pretty much keep showing I can play in the NFL.”
Marshall said doubters aren’t anything new to him. Many didn’t think the Middies’ dual-threat quarterback could succeed as a wide receiver at Ohio State, either.
He finished his career with 74 catches for 976 yards, including 36 grabs for 477 yards last season, and he had 12 touchdowns from scrimmage with another on a punt return.
“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder,” Marshall said. “I’ve been doubted since I was at Ohio State and I’ve been doubted since I left Ohio State, and I always will be. That’s something that motivates me to keep on chasing my dream.”
Marshall is projected as a running back who can work in the slot, but he said most teams he’s talked to see him making an impact immediately in the return game. The Bengals tried him out in the three-ball punt drill they do with Pacman Jones (three balls consecutively, catching while holding the others), and Marshall didn’t drop a ball.
Tuesday was his first time on the field at Paul Brown Stadium, but he said he could get comfortable there. The Bengals and Patriots are among the teams he’s had the most interaction with in recent weeks. Draft experts don’t project Marshall going higher than the third round.
“It feels like home to me,” said Marshall, who grew up a Vikings fan but attended some Bengals home games over the years. “… I’m looking forward to the whole process, and if I end up here, it’s a dream come true.”
Meanwhile, Marshall’s long-time friend Cody Quinn, a four-year contributor as a defensive back at Kentucky, attended the workout as more of a darkhorse for the draft.
Quinn, who graduated from Middletown a year before Marshall in 2012, doesn’t expect to be drafted but hopes to land somewhere as a free agent. He’s talked with Arizona, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and he used the workout Tuesday as a chance to just have some fun and maybe surprise the Bengals.
“I was happy and felt blessed I got the opportunity to come here and play at the Bengals’ stadium,” Quinn said. “I just came out to play football, that’s all I can do, and have fun doing it. I just love what I do, so hopefully I’m blessed with the opportunity to keep going forward and play at the next level.”