Marquis Gracial is a lot of different things.
He’s a son, a student and is just like your normal high school junior at this time of year. Finishing finals, getting through high school in a pandemic, and trying to figure out what his plans are beyond high school. The only difference between Marquis and most juniors is that Marquis is a mammoth of a young man with freak athleticism and a work ethic that is second to none.
Those traits, combined with a stellar GPA, is how you wind up with a whole lot of college coaches in your DM’s and cell phone begging you to come to their school. You know, coaches like Lincoln Riley, Herm Edwards or the even the biggest of them all... Nick Saban.
Still though, with all of the options he had, he chose Eli Drinkwitz and Missouri.
I reached out to Marquis and his head coach Bob Leonard because I had to find out a little bit more about him, and how he came to his decision:
Aaron Dryden: Before we start talking about things on the field, let’s start off the field. Who is Marquis Gracial, the person?
Marquis Gracial: (laughs) I don’t know. I like to think I’m pretty easy going and that I’m easy to get along with. I kind of just do my thing.
AD: You have a sense of humor, huh?
MG: You could say that. (laughs)
AD: How did you start playing ball? I’ve heard that you got a bit of a late start.
MG: I actually had never played organized football until the eighth grade. The only reason I really started was because all of my friends were playing and I wanted to join in. I played for UCity Elite. That team was full of talent.
AD: Learning to play at that age and developing as quick as you have is impressive. I know that you had a lot of offers from basically everyone who is someone in college football, and I know your top two schools were Missouri and Alabama. At first glance, some would be surprised that you would choose Mizzou. How did it come about?
MG: I just really felt like I developed a better relationship with the coaches at Mizzou. Between Coach Smith, who was my primary recruiter, and then Coach Wilks, Franklin and Drinkwitz, the relationship there was just stronger. It felt more like a family atmosphere to me. I was really impressed with Coach Wilks and Franklin and their NFL experience because that is something I want to achieve, and they have a plan to help me do it, too.
Family is also really important to me, and I wanted to stay a little closer to home so that my family and friends can come see me play. That was huge for me.
AD: That’s a response I’m sure that the Mizzou faithful would love to hear. Do you have any visits set up?
MG: I’ll be in Columbia for the Night at the Zou event on June 2nd, but other than that, no. I don’t have any official visits set up right now.
AD: I know you’ve been busy studying, and have actually one more final to take. Coach tells me if you can get an A that you’ll have a 4.0 this semester. Do you have any plans for what you may wanna study at Missouri?
MG: Yeah, I have a B right now and I’m trying to get that up to an A, so I’ve been spending a lot of time studying. As far as when I get to Mizzou, I think that I want to do something in business. Not exactly sure what yet, but I’ve heard a lot of nice things about their business school and I think that’s something I‘d like to do.
AD: It’s great that you have the dedication to your academics. That with your ability will obviously take you wherever you want to go.
I kind of want to shift to you, Coach and ask you, what’s it like to coach a player like Marquis, and when did you know he was going to develop into a player that would garner attention from the best schools in the country?
St. Charles Football Coach Bob Leonard: You know, it’s a lot easier to coach him than to game plan against him. (laughs)
In all seriousness though, it’s a treat to coach a player who not only has those god-given abilities but who is one of the hardest workers on the team. It makes my job easier, and it makes the team’s job easier. He’s constantly in the gym, constantly trying to improve and it’s fun to watch him progress.
I wish I could take credit for the player he has become, but I can’t. The very first time that I saw him come out of a stance I knew he was something special. He needed a little work, but it was evident the type of player he was immediately.
AD: Last question for Marquis, I know you play a little tight end in addition to playing on defense. If you had to choose between scoring a touchdown or getting a sack, which would you choose?
MG: Oh, that’s easy. I’d rather get a sack all day, every day. Scoring is fun, but breaking through to get through to the quarterback is a special feeling.
AD: I had a feeling that may be your choice. You really do have the mindset of a D-Lineman.
Thank you guys so much for your time, I’m wishing you guys luck next season and I’m looking forward to coming back to catch a game this upcoming season.
I’m appreciative to not just Marquis (@Gracial_Marquis), but to Coach Bob Leonard (@StChuckFootball) and the Athletic Director, Corey Hahn at SCHS (@SCHSActivities) for coordinating this sit down and giving me some of their time.
I think I speak for the rest of Missouri fans when I say congratulations to Marquis and that we’re all excited to see what he can do as a Tiger.
Follow me on Twitter @iAirDry!