Malik McDowell (left) and Lawrence Marshall, senior defensive linemen at Southfield High School, pictured during practice, Tuesday September 17, 2013. Marshall has committed to Michigan while McDowell is still considering offers from multiple schools. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)
FOOTBALL: A dominant tandem now, Southfield's McDowell and Marshall could also be one in college at Michigan WITH TOUT VIDEOS
SOUTHFIELD — Lawrence Marshall is constantly around Malik McDowell, whether it is in the halls of school, at football practice or games or even when socializing off of the field.
So given that, Marshall has to be constantly trying to woo McDowell into joining him to play college football at Michigan, right?
There obviously has to be some sort of subtle recruiting pitches from Marshall to McDowell, whether it’s quietly humming “The Victors,” pointing at the constant maize and blue clothing he wears, writing a block “M” in place of a normal “M” each chance he gets during class or talking about where the best burger places are in Ann Arbor.
Actually, Marshall said he doesn’t need to do any of that.
“Michigan recruits itself,” Marshall said. “The expression ‘Go Blue’ and the name of Michigan recruits itself. I don’t have to do too much. I talk to him, but Michigan speaks for itself.”
McDowell said when Marshall does talk to him about his college future, it’s basically one question and one assumption.
Naturally, the question Marshall predominantly asks is “Where are you going?” That then turns into the assumption that Marshall knows where McDowell is going.
“He pretty much says that he knows where I’m going and that he knows I’m going to Michigan,” McDowell said.
“Which isn’t 100 percent true.”
Many recruiting pundits consider McDowell, who has scholarship offers from Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan State, USC, Florida and UCLA just to name a few, to be leaning heavily toward Michigan.
McDowell said his college decision will be made sometime around the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4, but in the meantime, he’ll just focus on ensuring that one of the top high school defensive lines in the entire country resides at Southfield this fall.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the two when the 6-foot-6, 290 pound McDowell transferred from Detroit Loyola in the offseason to join forces with the 6-4, 230 pound Marshall, who was one of the state’s most unstoppable pass rushers last season and ended up committing to Michigan over the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State and Oklahoma.
The best way to assume how Southfield head coach Tim Conley felt when he found out the news that McDowell was coming is to pretend you are standing in an open field by yourself and all of a sudden it starts raining diamonds and gold bars from the sky.
It was the closest thing to a can’t-miss proposition for a coaching staff, but there was a slight challenge ahead trying to get McDowell and Marshall’s vast skill sets to mesh on the field.
Conley said there was one big advantage in that quest.
“Basically, he was playing the same position and the same technique at Loyola,” Conley said.
The results through three weeks of the season have been as dominant as many had thought they would be. As a space-eating defensive tackle, Marshall has 27 tackles, 15 of which are for loss, five sacks and 14 quarterback hurries.
From his defensive end position, Marshall has 25 tackles, five of which are for loss, six sacks and 14 quarterback hurries.
Marshall was actually linebacker for most of his football playing days until before last year, when a coach suggested he move to defensive end.
Marshall wasn’t initially receptive to the idea, but as it turns out, it was the like unexpectedly discovering a reserve of oil in the front yard and plutonium in the back yard.
“As a defensive end, it’s move straight to the quarterback,” Marshall said. “At linebacker, I have to drop back in coverage and know if it’s a run or a pass. Being a defensive end, it’s way better. There is more freedom.”
As much as the two are in competition with the other team, they are also in competition with each other.
McDowell said there’s a good-natured competition between Marshall to see which player will be the leader in the aforementioned categories, although nothing material is waiting as a reward.
“Just pride,” McDowell said.
Because they are in this competition, it irks McDowell more than ever that opposing teams are double and triple-teaming him, which has further freed Marshall from the edge to make plays.
“It’s not fair at all,” McDowell said facetiously with a good-natured smirk. “They have to stop helping him so I can catch up.”
We’ll see come the end of the season who wins. Then after that, we’ll see if they are able to continue their competition as teammates in college.