A year ago, Our Lady of Good Counsel senior quarterback Brendan “Whitey” Marshall inherited the reins of the offense for one of the best high school football programs in the country.
With a slew of veteran playmakers and blue-chip recruits around him, the Gaithersburg resident was usually assigned to just get the ball into the hands of wide receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Wes Brown without turning it over.
Marshall has verbally committed to the University of Virginia, and following a full season as a starter he is looking forward to an expanded role this fall.
“He's so much more confident,” Falcons coach Bob Milloy said. “We called a play [in passing league practice] and he said, 'We don't have enough room [on the field].' I told him to, 'Run the darn play.' It didn't work because we didn't have enough space. He was right. The mental aspect is what he's the best at. He really understands that game.
“I think he's really improved, but that really remains to be seen when we put pads on in August.”
Marshall, who was Zach Dancel's backup as a sophomore, agrees.
“Last year, I was the new kid on the block and now I am the veteran senior guy,” he said. “I know the offense better and I know a lot of what to expect from the defense. Everything is just second nature.”
The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder wasn't asked to throw much last year — he averaged 11.9 attempts per game — but when he did, he was successful. Marshall completed 81 of 143 passes for 1,471 yards and 13 touchdowns with four interceptions as Good Counsel posted a 12-0 record en route to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship.
“He was good last fall,” said senior two-way standout Kendall Fuller, who caught 26 passes for 527 yards and eight touchdowns last fall. “If anything, I've noticed he has so much more confidence. In passing league, I've noticed he's so much more decisive with the ball. He's just playing ball now and not thinking through everything.”
While, Marshall's collegiate future is secured, he still has room for improvement. In addition to the Falcons' top receiving and rushing threats graduating, Marshall will also have to adjust to life with several new faces on the offensive line.
“Sometimes he gets a little excited and puts a little too much juice on the ball,” Milloy said. “He has beautiful touch on the deep ball, but those short passes he could take a little bit off. On the other hand, the ball is usually on target and should be caught.”
Added Marshall: “Losing guys always hurts and there is an adjustment period, but we have so much talent here we can just kind of reload. … Talent will only go so far. It is more about watching film and breaking down defenses.”
Marshall began playign football at age 7 with the Damascus Sports Association and was on the same team as friend, classmate and fellow NCAA Division I recruit Zach Bradshaw (Damascus High). When it came time to choosing a high school, Marshall picked the private school route.
“It's just a better fit for me,” said Marshall, who decided to go to Virginia for its pro-style offense. “I wanted to play on television, I wanted to travel and I wanted to play with the best players. Good Counsel also provided the opportunity for more national exposure.
“I've been down to UVA when Zach's been there a couple of times. I think he likes it. I hope he does. It would be cool if he came there too.”