When they all arrived at LSU in the summer of 2018 to begin their college careers, the wide receiver trio of Terrace Marshall Jr., Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson were already looking ahead and talking about their futures.
They wondered what it would be like to one day leave LSU as first-round NFL draft choices.
“We all three were telling each other we wanted to be better and compete with each other and have fun,” Marshall said. “We always told ourselves that we would be in this position together. We all stayed humble. It’s crazy seeing that all of us are about to get that opportunity. Jets (Jefferson) got his opportunity and now me, and Ja’Marr are about to get ours. It’s just a blessing.”
Declaring for the 2020 draft after his junior season when LSU captured the 2019 national championship, Jefferson was the 22nd overall selection of the Minnesota Vikings where he flourished in his rookie season.
Despite opting out of the 2020 season, Chase was regarded as a high-round draft choice which the former All-American wide receiver cemented during LSU’s Pro Day on Wednesday.
The only remaining question was whether Marshall – often overlooked amongst LSU’s elite-level receiving corps with Chase and Jefferson – would join them. He stayed put for his final season and played in eight games, leading the Tigers in receiving before opting out Nov. 28 to begin preparations for the NFL draft and the opportunity to follow his former teammates into rarified air.
Four months later, the 6-foot-2 205-Marshall firmly positioned himself in the discussion among the top wide receiver candidates where after Chase, who is considered a top-five choice, the Bossier City native turned in a Pro Day that exhibited his speed (4.38 in 40) and explosiveness (39-inch vertical jump), the kind of numbers draft analysts deem worthy of a first-round draft choice.
“Everything played out like it’s supposed to be,” said Marshall, noted for his tremendous catch radius and ability to make contested catches. “Now it’s time to go to the next level and take advantage of every opportunity that I get.”
Marshall’s mind drifted back at this time a couple of years ago, where coming out of an offseason workout he stepped into LSU’s indoor practice facility to cheer on teammates Devin White and Greedy Williams going through their Pro Days.
He took notice of the mindset both players brought to such an important day in their lives, something he planned to replicate given the same chance.
“I just knew I would be in that position and doing those things,” Marshall said. “It’s just a matter of locking and doing the things that separate yourself in order to be great. You’ve got to earn everything you’ve got, take what’s yours.”
For the first time in his collegiate career, Marshall took over the role as LSU’s No. 1 receiver once Chase opted out before the start of the ’20 season and didn’t disappoint under adverse circumstances.
The Tigers went through a total of three different quarterbacks, triggered by a season-ending injury to starter Myles Brennan, which provided Marshall with quite an adjustment to go against opposing defenses that ganged up to slow him down.
During the seven games he spent with the team Marshall was the leading receiver with 48 catches for 731 yards and 10 touchdowns. In his final game against Texas A&M, he caught 10 catches for 134 yards before opting out at a time (early December) that traditionally before COVID-19 marked the end of the regular season.
“My mindset was that it didn’t matter who I’m on the field with, I was going to go out and do my thing,” Marshall said. “I loved playing with my brothers, but at the end of the day I’ve still got to take care of myself. I’m a dog and anybody that gets in front of me will have to see me.”
Marshall concluded his career with 106 catches, including 98 of which came in his final two years, with 1,554 yards and 23 touchdowns, the latter which tied him with Chase for fourth on the school’s career list.
After taking a couple of weeks off following his decision to leave the team, Marshall went about the process of selecting Vincent Taylor of Elite Loyalty Sports (Irving, Texas) as his agent. He chose Michael Johnson Performance (McKinney, Texas) – the same athlete that was a four-time Olympic track gold medalist – to begin his training for LSU’s Pro Day and NFL draft.
Workouts consist of six-days-a-week training that included speed work in the morning, watching film at noon, conducting virtual meetings with NFL teams, weightlifting and catching passes off a Jugs machine, he said.
“I focused on the little things that will become big things,” he said. “Just took care of things body wise.”
Marshall commended his training for his Pro Day production, namely his speed in the 40-yard dash, explosiveness in both the vertical and broad jump (10 feet, 5 inches) and strength (19 reps on the bench press).
The work, though, for Marshall will continue in April with training back in Texas where he may also conduct private workouts in the lead up to the NFL Draft on April 29-May 1 in Cleveland.
He’ll continue holding virtual meetings around his workouts with respective teams that want to try and match his mental makeup to his physical gifts. Prior to his Pro Day showing, he acknowledged having talks with the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts – teams that have their sights set on a potential first-round talent.
“It was important to me because I want to go in the first round,” Marshall said of the amount of work he’s put forth in this process. “I knew if I went out there and shined and improved myself, I’ll have a chance to do that. Pro Day is a big part of it, but I’m still pushing. I know what’s at stake and that’s always been my goal.”