By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Football: West lineman a center of attention
Marshall already being wooed by SEC schools
sports-marshall2-websmall JP
West Forsyth junior center Andrew Marshall (64) may have his pick of some of the top college football programs in the nation. - photo by Jared Putnam

The general rule in football is that the more often you touch the ball, the more recognition you receive.

Quarterbacks, running backs and playmaking wide receivers are all celebrated for their roles on the field.

But the one player that touches the ball on every offensive snap rarely receives the same kind of glory, no matter how talented he is.

It’s unlikely that Andrew Marshall’s name will ever appear in a box score, but the 6-foot-5, 255-pound junior center is one of the main reasons why No. 5-ranked West Forsyth has gone 15-2 since he took over the starting job as a sophomore last season.

Marshall doesn’t seem to mind. He doesn’t care if he garners attention with a pancake block; all he thinks about is keeping the quarterback upright and creating running room for the backs.

"I like playing [center] a lot," Marshall said. "I get to make some calls on the line, so that’s nice. I have to talk a lot with the quarterback and we both have to be on the same page."

Marshall may not get a lot of glory on the field, but his abilities aren’t going unnoticed.

As a sophomore, Marshall received recognition at the local, state and national levels. He was named to the all-state honorable mention team, first team All-County, the Region 6-AAAAA second team, and won the offensive lineman most valuable player award for sophomores at the National Underclassmen Combine.

"He’s built just like most centers," West head coach Frank Hepler said.

"The [offensive line] coach at Georgia Tech, Coach [Mike] Sewak, who’s been a longtime football coach here in the state of Georgia on the college level, he looked at him one day and said, ‘Coach, he’s got the perfect body for a center."

Though Marshall won’t graduate until 2014, he is already being wooed by Auburn and South Carolina, and has received interest from Georgia Tech and other colleges.

"I want to go wherever the good Lord leads me," Marshall said. "I would love to play in the SEC one day, but I’m not too particular. I just try to do my assignments the best I can."

Marshall moved with his family from Jackson, Ala. to Cumming during first grade and played baseball, basketball and football while growing up.

He has played center since middle school, when he realized that he wanted to focus exclusively on football.

Though center is generally considered a more cerebral position than what it often gets credit for, Marshall has no illusions about the main key to his success. He attributes the ability to play the middle of the offensive line to "being bigger than everyone."

Marshall’s size is unusual within his immediate family, as he towers above his parents and two sisters. His father stands an even 6 feet tall, while his mother is 5-foot-6.

Marshall also has the strength to match his frame. He set out to bench press 300 pounds during the summer, but he topped his own goal by lifting 315 pounds before the season began.

"Being strong is really important," Marshall said. "You have to be able to fight in the trenches and move people around. You have to be quick to fight the fast kids and strong to fight the other kids."

Marshall wants to gain an additional 15 pounds before he graduates to make him more attractive to colleges.

"I eat a lot of carbs and protein," Marshall said.

"I eat basically whatever my mom makes. She’s a good cook. At lunch, we have about four or five options up there so I eat whatever the school has. ... Sometimes I’ll go out with the guys sometimes after the games and we’ll eat Waffle House or get some hot wings."

Marshall also has the brains to match his brawn.

He is enrolled in advanced placement physics, AP calculus and AP physiology at West, all while boasting a 3.8 grade point average.

"He’s an intelligent young man, not only in the classroom but on the football field," Hepler said. "He makes a lot of our [protection] calls.

"He understands what Coach [Adam] Clack and Coach [Bob] Fuller want to get accomplished out on the field. Most of [the players] understand that, but to be able to do it and verbalize it [on the field] is pretty impressive for a high school-age kid, and he can do that without a problem."

Marshall believes the Wolverines have a chance to make some noise in the postseason this year.

After going 11-2 and reaching the Class 5A state quarterfinals last season, West is off to a 4-0 start in Region 6-AAAAAA this year.

The Wolverines have scored a total of 126 points in the last two games, and much of that scoring success has been courtesy of Marshall and the rest of the offensive line bulldozing holes through defenses.

"We all try to keep working hard each day to win every game," Marshall said. "We want to go far. We’re working hard and getting better all the time."