Looking back at old articles about Southfield, Michigan star Lawrence Marshall, the first thing that jumps out at you is a painful story of losing his father and grandfather in 2013. Other than that, it was the story of a bright future - one of the top ten prospects in Michigan, a force on the edge who was part defensive lineman and part linebacker.
Curiously, though, I noticed that his favorite player was a guy who shares his name: Lawrence Taylor, affectionately known as LT. He was another force on the edge who made life hell for anybody on the opposing sideline.
(Warning: this video starts off with plenty of NSFW language. Also, the embed’s just here for show, so here’s the link to watch LT do his thing.)
Now, Lawrence Marshall is up to 285, and he’s got a new aspiration: dominate on the line of scrimmage, keep the paths clean for Mike McCray, and maybe dust off a little of that old pass-rushing skill from time to time. Funnily enough, he’s now more of a clone of Malik McDowell, a teammate of his at Southfield, than he is Lawrence Taylor. But the mentality is still the same.
There were only three games Marshall played in this past year: Hawaii, UCF, and a blowout win against Maryland. He was listed at 268 on the roster, closer to a strongside end than the weakside end/linebacker he came to campus to play. He looked solid from both an athleticism and technique perspective, a far cry from his first weeks on the practice field.
"There's some guys we were pointing out on film from Day 1 of spring until now have made huge strides," said Michigan’s defensive coordinator back in 2015, D.J. Durkin. "Lawrence Marshall, he's a young guy, he's a (redshirt) freshman. The first two practices he could barely line up and now he's out there and playing really well for us, we expect him to help us."
That didn’t come to fruition in 2015 or 2016, and time is slowly running out to make a statement at the college level. He’ll have a different opportunity this time, though - to add interior pass rushing and veteran strength to the three-technique spot behind Maurice Hurst. It’s a position he’s uniquely qualified to fill.
It will be a culmination of a lot of things for Marshall, who remained committed to Michigan during their own tenuous 2014 on-field campaign.
“Michigan had my back: That’s why I stayed committed,” Marshall said at the time. “Though they had a bad season, their loyalty to me was unbelievable when I was in a time of need.
“They came to (my dad’s) funeral. They don’t have to do that. All they have to do is send a text saying ‘Sorry for your loss.’ It really touched me that they were there for me and was a big reason that I stayed committed to Michigan.”