FAIRHOPE, Ala. — Nick Marshall has decided to switch his focus from targeting receivers with passes to tracking them in coverage.
Marshall, the former Auburn quarterback, arrived at the Reese's Senior Bowl as a QB, but on Tuesday switched to cornerback and also worked on special teams during the South team's first practice of the week at Fairhope Municipal Stadium.
The Senior Bowl, in its 66th year as an all-star showcase of players eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft announced that Southeastern Louisiana's Bryan Bennett has been added to the South roster to bring its quarterback total back to three. Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage said Monday, before Marshall's decision, that Marshall entering the draft as a defensive back instead of as a quarterback could open consideration from more teams.
South Head Coach Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars said he liked the way Marshall stepped in and competed.
"It's tough, but I'll tell you what I appreciate about Nick. He came up to me and said, 'I want to try defense. I want to go in there and play corner and be a part of special teams,' Bradley said. "I think the thing that jumped out to me is his competitiveness. He just wants to contribute. He wasn't even in the defensive meetings last night. We made that decision earlier today and to come out and jump in and go full-speed, and you could see him progress as the practice went on."
Marshall was originally a defensive back at Georgia, then played quarterback in junior college. He helped lead the Tigers to the national championship game after the 2013 season as a junior and played QB at Auburn in 2014, earning finalist status for the Maxwell Award. He told the Associated Press he made the decision after speaking with his mother and other family members.
"It wasn't difficult because I played cornerback also coming up," Marshall told the Associated Press. "It won't be a hard transition for me to make. It's something that I know if I put my mind to I can do anything that I want."
Running back Cameron Artis-Payne, a teammate of Marshall's at Auburn and the Senior Bowl, said he won't be surprised to see Marshall do well. The South and North teams will have two more days of practices, followed by a community day Friday before Saturday's showdown.
"He's a great athlete, so I figure he'll be up for it," Artis-Payne said.