One on One with Jay Graham
Marcus seems to be embracing talk about at least being a Heisman Trophy finalist. What's your take on how he's set his goals?
"The biggest thing to me is winning football games. I think that's the most important thing. Although he appreciates all the accolades and honors that come along with it, I really feel like, at the end of the day, he likes playing hard for his teammates and going out there and doing what it takes to win football games."
How much pressure do you think is on him for this encore season, when everyone in the building knows he's getting the ball?
"(Defenses have been trying to stop him) since he was in high school. Sure, I know this is a different level, and the guys will be bigger, faster and stronger, but he's dealt with that on different levels before. Now he's on a big stage. Every week, the defense is going to try to stop him. I think that's the reason why he's working so hard in the offseason."
Is it possible that being injured in the bowl game, missing nearly the entire game, spurred him into the offseason? He's told some people he is motivated to get stronger so he can stay healthy in the future.
"I don't think there was one incident or one thing that really pushed him. I think he's driven anyway. That's how I view him. That's one of his intangibles. You tell him to go do something, he does it. I think that's a good part about him."
How rare is a player like that?
"There's not a lot of guys like that, no. But I think he realizes he wants to be the best he can possibly be. That's how you do it."
What technical things do you think Marcus needed to look at and improve upon in the offseason? What sort of things did you talk about with him?
"We always talk about breaking tackles. We're still in the process of doing that. I'll go through and make a tackle-breaking tape and he'll look at those things. I don't have to tell him to look at it. I make the tape, and he goes and looks at it. Those are the things that we really talk about. We talk about getting stronger. That's the thing he's taken upon himself in the offseason. He's gained three or four pounds of muscle, mostly in his legs and his thigh area. You know it's going to be a physical season. He went through it last year and wants to be more prepared for it."
Do you feel like Marcus' teammates respect him as a leader, even though he's only entering his second season?
"I think so. A lot of that respect comes from when a person cares about you, cares about his teammates. He gets that in return. I see him when he's with his teammates. He's there for them, everybody. He tries to. That's the thing I notice."