The recruiting news never ends, even when we’re in the middle of a “dead period.” The Tigers landed another commitment earlier this week from St. Thomas Aquinas (KS) 3-star defensive tackle Jalen Marshall.
Marshall picked Missouri over Oklahoma State, Indiana, Nebraska and Arizona State. His father played at Oklahoma State. He becomes the 12th known commitment in the Tigers’ 2022 recruiting class, joining Marquis Gracial as the second defensive lineman in this class.
His commitment might not come with the same amount of fanfare as the recent 4-stars added to the class, but that shouldn’t take away from what Marshall potentially adds to the Tigers’ defense.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what Marshall’s commitment could mean for the Tigers.
Where he fits: Everywhere? Marshall is a really unique player. At 6-foot-5 and more than 275 pounds, he has a massive frame with the ability to put on more weight when he gets to campus. He’ll likely start out at defensive tackle with the potential to slide over to nose tackle before the end of his time at Mizzou.
What makes Marshall so unique is his rare size, speed and length. His junior highlight film is littered with passes Marshall batted down with a paw at the line of scrimmage. JJ Watt coined the “JJ Swat” in the NFL. Marshall’s ability to get his hands into passing lanes is something that should translate right away.
#Mizzou defensive tackle commit Jalen Marshall seems to have a knack for batting down passes at the line of scrimmage. That's a hell of a skill to add to the defensive line room. pic.twitter.com/Fd95QcdbWV— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) July 14, 2021
Another thing that should translate is his ability to contribute in stunts and “games” up front. Marshall’s high school team ran a number of stunts with their defensive linemen that resulted in Marshall looping around the defensive end as a free rusher or crashing in front of the defensive end to free up a teammate on the interior. That experience will serve him well as he adjusts to Steve Wilks’ zone blitz heavy defense at Mizzou.
It was nice to see Jalen Marshall run some stunts & games up front at St. Thomas Aquinas. That's something #Mizzou's defensive linemen will be asked to do under new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. pic.twitter.com/IJnew921C3— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) July 14, 2021
When he’ll play: It’s so hard to project interior defensive linemen, especially those who probably need to add bulk before they have the ability to play against SEC offensive lines. That said, Marshall might be able to contribute sooner than expected based on his recruiting ranking.
Akial Byers and Kobie Whiteside will graduate after this season. Darius Robinson and Ben Key are expected to graduate after the 2022 season. That leaves Realus George, Mekhi Wingo, Marquis Gracial and Jalen Marshall on the interior.
I can't recommend high school teams run slow developing plays against Jalen Marshall. That seems like a pretty bad idea. pic.twitter.com/Fcrl8Mm2dc— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) July 14, 2021
Gracial and Wingo are probably better pass rushers at this point than Marshall and project better as three techniques. But Marshall could see some playing time at nose tackle his freshman year, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him as a regular contributor by his sophomore year barring a transfer before then.
What it all means: Eli Drinkwitz just added another long, strong and skilled defensive lineman to the mix who could contribute early in his career. Let’s put it another way: Marshall is exactly the type of player Mizzou fans would have been celebrating and hyping up three years ago. Star ratings are important, and they serve a purpose. But players with three stars next to their name can turn into valuable commodities in their time at Mizzou.
Marshall’s high school film suggests he could be one of those players sooner rather than later.