After weeks of sharing the spotlight with Dontre Wilson, redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall is set to have his own stage on Saturday.
With sophomore H-back Wilson out for the foreseeable future with a broken foot, Marshall is expected to get the majority of the reps at H-back, something he said he is excited for.
“When me and Dontre were sharing the position, we did share reps, so this just gives me the opportunity to play a little bit more,” Marshall said Wednesday. “I feel like I am ready to take on that role to play a little bit more at the H-back position.”
Marshall has lined up in multiple spots all over the field this season, including quarterback in a wildcat formation.
The Middletown, Ohio, native played quarterback throughout high school and threw for 2,240 yards as a senior.
Marshall said he’s had fun taking on different roles in the offense.
“I definitely enjoy it. It is fun for me to be at different positions around the field. I get a kick out of playing quarterback just because that is where I came from,” Marshall said. “Every time they say ‘go in at quarterback,’ I take it to the most advantage I can.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer compared Marshall’s skill set to one of his former players and a current NFL star.
“The thing I always look at is Joe Haden was a quarterback in high school. You’re not just going to put your best player out there for 30 plays a game at corner,” Meyer said. “If he’s a great player, he’s going to touch the football.”
Marshall has gotten exactly 45 touches this season — 17 carries, 14 receptions, 11 punt returns, two kick returns and one pass attempt — and has scored three times in his first season of action as a Buckeye.
Marshall said his experience at quarterback has helped him on the field this season at the H-back spot.
“We are taught as receivers to read defenses because you have to know when you are getting the ball and when you are not,” Marshall said. “It helped me out a bit coming from the quarterback position.”
He added that he tries to keep his arm warm on the sideline, just in case he is called upon to attempt a pass.
“I try to swing it around a little bit, I don’t try to give it away to the fans as much,” Marshall said. “They are yelling down, ‘Jalin, throw one, throw one,’ I don’t control that so I just try to warm up a little bit with the quarterbacks before the game just in case I have to go out there and throw a pass.”
Marshall has attempted one pass this season, as a throw downfield intended for redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas fell incomplete in a game against Illinois.
After the game against the Fighting Illini, Meyer said Marshall’s role in the offense is expanding not only because of his skill set, but also because of necessity.
“We’ve been working on Jalin playing quarterback first because he’s very talented,” Meyer said Nov. 1. “Second of all … you hear these stories, I’ve never been down to our third- and fourth-string quarterback, but you always try to be ready in case something happens. And he’s a gifted guy. So we’re going to expand his package each week.”
Despite the excitement of extended playing time, Marshall said he and the Buckeyes are focused on the task at hand: beating Minnesota.
“We got to take it one week at a time,” Marshall said. “This is a big game, Minnesota just cracked the top-25 (in the College Football Playoff rankings) and I feel like we have to prepare this week, just as we did last week.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers at noon Saturday in Minneapolis.