September 28, 2012

Devil turned Deacon

Wake Forest strong safety A.J. Marshall's father steered him toward Duke at an early age.

Marshall, a native of Durham, NC, remembers cheering for former Duke Basketball standout Trajan Langdon, the Alaskan Assassin.

"I was really impressed by their basketball team at an early age," Marshall said. "It's kind fallen off now that I got a lot of friends that play for Wake now. I always support Wake Forest sports."

The 6-feet and 190-pound junior exchanged his blue for Black and Gold, turning down a scholarship offer from the Blue Devils to join the Demon Deacons (3-1, 1-1 ACC).

As Saturday, Sept. 29 approaches with a visit from his childhood favorite Duke (3-1, 0-0 ACC) so does added excitement more than he usually has for a game, especially Wake's 12-game winning streak over the Blue Devils at stake.

"I know a lot of those guys on the Duke team, and I know that they have a great program and they're up and coming," Marshall said. "I always give an extra effort when I play Duke."

"A lot of my family is coming up, so they'll probably be right behind the Duke bus on the way up here. It will be a great experience just like last year when we went down to Duke. I'm pretty sure a lot of the same people will come."

After facing the constant grind of Army's run-heavy Wing-T offense Marshall is eager to face the pass again. While it is not the headache of defending the triple-option Duke's pass-attack is still effective.

Sean Renfree has thrown for 1,078 yards and nine touchdowns to four interceptions this season, and Conner Vernon and Jamison Crowder have caught a combined 58 passes for 767 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Marshall has made 19 tackles (nine solo, 10 assists), 1.5 tackles for loss, an interception returned 39 yards for a touchdown, two pass breakups and a forced fumble this season. The Demon Deacons are allowing 211.8 yards through the air per game.

"I'm back back-pedaling," Marshall said. "I'm excited. Me and my corners, Bud [Noel], K.J. Johnson, Kenny [Okoro], D-Mack, we're all excited just to be back back-pedaling, being able to make plays when the ball is in the air. Just seeing the ball in the air just gets us excited."

"It's going to be a great game. I know my corners are excited. The whole secondary is excited, and I know Coach [David] Cutcliffe has Renfree on his p's and q's over there being that he has a long history of great quarterbacks under his belt, so I know it will be a great game, well-fought between secondary and receiving corps. Hopefully we'll come out on top."

Marshall added his family and friends will be in their black and gold Saturday, but said his father may be in blue when Duke Basketball is on.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!