Jalin Marshall still plans to work in the media — just not yet.
The former Middletown High School star said he was in the process of resuming work toward a communications degree at Ohio State this past year when he got the call from the Alliance of American Football.
“I’ve always kept that in the back of my head, what I’m going to do after football, because it’s not going to last forever,” Marshall said. “The first thing I’ll do is finish out at Ohio State, which I plan on doing soon, and move forward. I had started to do that then they called me with the opportunity so I trained for it to make sure I was ready.”
So far, that is looking like a good decision.
Marshall, who played 10 games for the New York Jets in 2016, was one of the faces of the first weekend of AAF action Feb. 9-10 when he caught the first touchdown in league history and later threw a touchdown pass on a trick play as his Orlando Apollos beat the Atlanta Legends 40-6.
He added another touchdown catch a week later and is second on the 3-0 Apollos with seven catches for 150 yards.
The new league is hoping to carve out a niche as a developmental league for the NFL while appealing to fans still hungry for football after the Super Bowl.
It remains to be seen if there are enough potential customers and viewers for the latter to work, but Marshall is happy with the football side of things so far.
“It’s a good experience,” he said Friday. "It’s pretty much all the same (as the NFL). It’s good to have an opportunity to show your talents on a national stage.”
Marshall, who finished 2017 on the Jets practice squad after serving a four-game suspension for a failed drug test he attributed to taking Adderall without an exemption, said AAF practices are similar to those in the NFL.
“The difference is there are no practice squad players so you have to take more reps in practice and during scout team,” said Marshall. “Everything else is pretty much the same as far as the structure, the tempo, and things like that.”
Marshall is enjoying playing for Orlando head coach Steve Spurrier and called the College Football Hall of Famer “a great man and a great coach."
“I think he does a great job putting his players in position to be successful,” Marshall said of the 73-year-old who coached Florida to the 1996 national championship with his “Gun and Gun” offense. “That’s a big difference between a good team and a bad team, if the coach puts his players in the right position to be successful. He does a great job of doing that.”
The Apollos 10-game schedule is set to run through April 14 with the first AAF championship game set for the same weekend (April 26-28) of the NFL draft.
The hope is that players who impress during the AAF season will get an opportunity to join NFL teams for their offseason programs in May and June.
“The goal is to be able to get back there,” Marshall said. "I definitely want to finish this year out strong and win a championship and I think if we take care of our business and win the championship everybody will have an opportunity to go play.
“Some of us guys who have been to the NFL, we were like the last couple of receivers on the roster so those guys don’t really get a chance to put out their skills on national TV every week,” Marshall said. “So I think this is something that will give me an opportunity to show I am capable of playing at the highest level.”
A five-star recruit at Middletown, Marshall redshirted at Ohio State in 2013 before emerging as one of the playmakers for the 2014 Buckeyes national championship team.
He entered the 2016 NFL draft but wasn’t picked.
He ended up making the Jets roster and contributing as a rookie before finding out just how fragile success in pro football can be.
“It’s been a big rollercoaster ride for me with ups and downs, highs and lows and stuff like that, but all throughout my journey I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “Whether it was being successful or going through a rough patch, I’ve learned to be a better man, a better person, a better player for all the things I’ve been through I think it has allowed me to put myself in a great situation now.”
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