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July 25, 2012Marquel Combs has approximately 35 offers but one that could make a difference in his recruitment hasn't come yet. It may soon, however.
A 6-foot-3, 305 pound defensive tackle at Woodland Hills (Calif.) Pierce College, Combs is committed to Mississippi but planning to take official visits to several other schools, including Arizona State -- assuming an offer comes as expected. His twitter account, @TheReal_92, has "attending Ball So Hard Univesity" (a nickname for ASU) on its profile.
"I've been really talking to Arizona State a lot more recently and like what they have to say," Combs said. "They're taking the time to get to know me and make sure everything is a good fit but it seems like they might offer here in the next week or so which would be really good because they're interesting to me."
The Sun Devils are making a major push at Pierce, with offers out to four others at the school: receiver Joe Morris, who committed to ASU Monday; tight end Beau Sandland, who lists ASU among his leaders; Jaelen Strong, who has ASU atop of his list; and linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore, who has ASU on his short list.
Morris, Sandland, Strong and Jenkins-Moore visited ASU last weekend while Combs, a Memphis, Tenn., native was home. But Combs, who is also planning visits to Kansas and Kansas State, is keeping close tabs on the Sun Devils.
"I want to say congrats to Joe Morris on committing to ASU, he deserved it a lot," Combs said. "I talked to Joe, Marcus, Beau, all of them and they were like, they loved the trip and the atmosphere and the way the program was going. I talk to my friend (2012 signee out of Pierce) Oliver Johnson, me and him are close budies and he told me how the program is sort of going in a new direction since coach Todd Graham became the head coach. I also have another friend who played down there too so they all keep me posted on what's going on."
A projected December graduate, Combs is one of the most coveted junior college prospects in the nation due to his rare athleticism for a defensive tackle. He's surprisingly relatively new to football, which makes him perhaps even more intriguing as a prospect.
"I really only played my senior year so I was under the radar and no junior college wanted to take a shot at me so I went to prep school and then went to Pierce and that's where I kind of blew up. Now I have 34 or 35 offers and I've only played two years.
"It didn't take me long to realize I had a chance to be pretty good. Going into my senior year of high school my uncle said I was too big to be sitting on the couch and walking around the neighborhood. I wasn't that good my first few times, like in 1-on-1s I'd lose but I put in my mind I wasn't going to get beat so I put in a whole lot of work and time and that's what got me to this point. But my uncle says you haven't made it yet and he's right, so I've got to keep working."
Though Combs didn't spend a lot of time following football before he started playing, he's become a real student of the game, studying film of playmakers along the defensive line.
"I'm kind of like Haloti Ngata and Warren Sapp and the old version of Albert Hayensworth and Darnell Dockett," Combs said. "I watch film of them a lot to learn things and put it into my game. I've got a lot of good things for someone who hasn't been playing that long. I like my athleticism a lot, my speed and strength, my leadership capability."
Coming of age in an area of Memphis where trouble was easy to find created some hurdles for Combs when he was younger, but football and family have helped get him on a great trajectory.
"It was really hard growing up, but I had my mom and grandparents to help keep me on the right track once I decided to play football," Combs said. "I was a good kid but the one to be hanging out at the wrong place at the wrong time with a whole lot of friends.
"I'm very excited to have this opportunity. I just thank God every morning when I wake up. There's a lot of kids who would love to be in my place, a lot of kids who are too small or not too tall or anything, that would do whatever for this opportunity and that's what I try to keep in mind."