Jalin Marshall’s confidence never wavered.
Not when analysts said he was making a mistake declaring for the draft with two years of eligibility left at Ohio State. Not when the phone call he was hoping for on draft weekend never came. And not when he walked into the New York Jets facility as an undrafted college free agent and saw all the veterans he would be challenging for a job.
“I came here like I was supposed to be here and carried that all the way through and worked hard and made sure they knew I wanted to be here and I could help this team win,” said Marshall, the 2013 Middletown High School graduate who on Saturday found out he had beaten the odds and made the Jets 53-man roster.
“I left college early knowing I was ready,” Marshall added. “I guess I keep proving people wrong that I’m ready to take that next step and be an NFL star.”
Marshall will make his official NFL debut Sunday in the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, and he’s hoping it’s as exciting as his preseason debut, when the first time he touched the ball he returned a kickoff 84 yards.
But it was long before that when he began impressing his teammates.
“I think the biggest thing that has impressed me, and maybe it’s because he went to Ohio State and played in front of a lot of people, but he has this confidence about him,” Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “The stage is definitely not too big for him.
“Whether he did right away or not, he thought that he belonged,” Fitzpatrick added. “He stepped right into the huddle with Erik Decker and Brandon Marshall and Nick Mangold and those type of guys and felt like he belonged in there. You don’t see that much out of a rookie, but you really don’t see that out of an undrafted rookie.”
Marshall is one of three rookie wide receivers who made the Jets roster, along with fellow undrafted free agent Robby Anderson and seventh-round pick Charone Peake. Marshall caught nine passes for 94 yards in the preseason and has been named the team’s first-string kick/punt returner.
“He came in hungry,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said. “He has great work ethic and obviously he’s a good athlete. He’s a very intelligent football player, has great hands and he wanted it. He made plays in practice and he made plays in the preseason and he earned a spot on the roster.”
Marshall admitted he got a little choked up when he found out he had made the roster. After composing himself, he knew what his next move had to be.
“I called my parents and told them everything was good and to get everything ready to come out here for the game,” he said.