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TOP 10 TIGERS OF 2020:
TERRACE MARSHALL (WR)
106 catches from 133 total targets
RED SHIRT SOPHOMORE:
7 Starts, 7 Appearances
-15.2 Per Catch
-Highest catch percentage on contested targets since 2018 among 2021 Draft WRs
(including Ja'Marr Chase & Devonte Smith)
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Alongside Tiger receivers such as Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Josh Reed, Brandon LaFell, Wendell Davis or Andy Hamilton among others, Terrace Marshall firmly belongs amidst the Top 10 greatest receivers to ever wear the purple and gold.
One could definitely argue LSU's recent receiving output stands in the top 5 collegiate programs of the last 25 years, boasting nonstop high impact talent over that span: highlighted by the NFL success of Odell Beckham Jr, D.J Chark, Jarvis Landry, Dwayne Bowe, Devery Henderson, as well as last year's true rookie of the year Justin Jefferson.
The Tigers have had many electrifying playmakers holding court at the receiving position, from Early Doucet's versatile entertainment, who could forget Demetrius Byrd's clutch grabs (specifically his TD catch right at the stroke of death vs Auburn for the win), 80s' colossus Tony Moss catching 4 TDs in 1989 from QB Tommy Hodson vs Ohio, later 1st Round pick Buster Davis (to the San Diego Chargers) racked up over 2,000 yards in limited opportunities; Malachi Dupre and Trayvin Dural also hold court on the list; nearly 35 years after his time ended at LSU, Wendell Davis still remains 2nd in all time receiving yards, 8th in all time touchdowns and had a massive wealth of multiple TD games....so many names....however, there's one man who really could've stood head and shoulders above all in the LSU record books (had he played out his Tigers career in full):
Terrace Marshall, the wunderkind juggernaut National Champion...and he's also the #2 Tiger of LSU's 2020 5-5 season.
One of the most effortless & hard working receivers I've ever witnessed wearing purple and gold, Terrace Marshall Jr has a singular gift, just like his more publicized former teammates Justin Jefferson or Ja'Marr Chase....still, his talents are separate and of their own unique flavor, positioning the Bossier City rep as a sure-fire 1st-2nd Round NFL Draft pick.
Neither Jefferson nor Chase (6'1 and 6'0 respectively) could stand in the way of Steve Ensminger or Joe Brady routinely calling Terrace Marshall's number in the red zone, utilizing his aerial prowess and DB extinction, rising high above with his 6'3 bordering on 6'4 length.
Some may say we didn't see enough of Terrace, lamenting his 6 missed games through injury or opting out...yet what we witnessed from #6 for a sustained period of time over two undisputed campaigns isn't up for debate:
His value was as close to Jefferson or Chase as a receiver could possibly be...in fact, there were times he was the go-to guy. And when many wondered if the former 5 star recruit could cut it as the lead man last year, he responded by scorching opponents for 10 TDs in 7 games.
Every time an obstacle fell into his path, the young wide out was able to find a way. Every time he was challenged, he stood to be counted.
Featuring in 32 games for the Tigers, the Bossier-native's 23 TDs rank him 4th all time in LSU history, tied with Ja'Marr Chase and only 1 behind Justin Jefferson for 3rd place; meanwhile, Marshall was able to amass more single-game yardage than both Jefferson or Chase's glorified 2019 output, stacking 235 receiving yards vs Missouri (his 11 receptions during the 45-41 defeat stands as the 8th all time single game LSU haul).
Yes, Terrace broke out by way of LSU's National Championship season, the local Louisiana receiver proving to be a core piece of their success, although he showcased flashes of this dominance even a year prior:
It was quite obvious (to anyone paying attention) this LSU offense could be stunning when healthy (both Chase & Marshall nursing injuries) and if they were prepared to finally utilize their skill position superstars in the proper fashion:
Whenever Terrace played, he contributed, making 2 huge grabs against #2 Georgia (including a second effort 3rd down and a long gain up the sideline, leading to a touchdown)....sadly, it took most of the Tigers' 2018 campaign to get the wide receiving corps back fully fit.
Receiving 19 overall targets from Joe Burrow in 2018, Terrace hauled in 12 receptions for 192 yards, 16.0 on average (which makes sense considering he caught a trio of 16 yard first downs against Rice). Although he finished with 0 scores, it was the effectiveness Marshall displayed which gave an illustrious preview of his talents.
He set up touchdowns against #2 Georgia, Ole Miss and Rice while looking every bit the aerial ambassador LSU expected. Terrace was also impossible to wrap up with his underrated power and robust midsection, however due to injury we saw little of Marshall Jr throughout 2018: The LSU coaching staff wisely eased Terrace back into action after he suffered a horrific leg injury during his senior year at Parkway High School.
In September 2017, when Marshall was rated the #1 receiving prospect in America, he had to be carted off the field after fighting for a deep ball and landing awkwardly, while another player was also injured during the same collision, both carted off the field.
Terrace would miss most of his senior season, however he rehabbed with steadfast intensity and grind, making sure he was fit and ready for LSU's summer camps as a freshman. Although Coach Orgeron admired his work ethic to return so quickly, the staff weren't so hasty, fully understanding the need to protect the unbridled talent within their midst.
Heading into LSU's 2019 season, everything changed.
Terrace began to regain his health and started taking over on the field, even against the stiff competition of Ja'Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson; new Passing Game Coordinator Joe Brady helped bolster the red shirt freshman's development, and it showed from Week 1 on, Terrace catching 3 touchdowns within the 2nd quarter vs Georgia Southern.
Undeniably, Marshall became the red zone finisher Ensminger and Brady trusted most.
In fact, every single one of the Bossier-native's touchdowns came in the red zone during the 2019 campaign, capped off by a thunderous 5 TDs in 3 postseason contests over two #1 defenses (playing through a nasty shoulder injury against Clemson & dominating UGA in ATL) as well as ripping Joe Burrow's unforgettable Houdini pass out of the sky from multiple defenders vs Oklahoma.
Then there's his towering touchdown snag off Derion Kendrick in the corner of the Superdome's end zone, the flashing lights and the blinding spiral of glory never too bright, sealing LSU's come from behind National Championship victory and enabling a cigar-puffing, money-tossing party college football will never forget...least of all the "no fun jackals" from the NCAA...
Just as Justin and Ja'Marr, Terrace completed the trio of all 3 receivers eclipsing 100 yards at Texas in what was a whirlwind, season-defining victory, grabbing 6 passes for 123 yards and a TD in the 45-38 win.
It's safe to say, without his huge tone-setting 1st quarter touchdown vs Auburn's then-ranked #1 defense, LSU may not win that game...in fact, Burrow and co only prevailed by 3 points, the finest margins of the year and it came down to a nervy onside kick (Derrick Dillon luckily snagged). Throughout that afternoon within the fiery cauldron of Death Valley, against a bloody October sunset shimmering through the stadium (mixed in with patches of autumnal shade), LSU's receivers (and Thad Moss) made one monumental grab after another, helping to provide Clyde and Joe some extra room in the RPO game...as always, Terrace's contributions proved pivotal.
Before the Auburn matchup, it was a race against time just to get the heralded receiver back to action. He grabbed 6 TDs through 3 games of action, so when you see Marshall missing 3 games including a bout vs top 10 Florida in the Swamp (where he surely would've grabbed another touchdown or two) you agonize over the records...
But when you look at the overall picture, forgetting the sadly missed 3 games or the broken toe he had to endure and a surprising lack of targets, the 2nd year receiver made it count, scoring every 3.5 catches under Joe Burrow's maniacal leadership.
He finished with 46 receptions, 671 yards, 14.6 per catch and ranked third in TDs (13) behind Chase (20) and Jefferson's (18) haul, the trio's total hitting a blistering apex of 51 combined TDs.
As 2020 dawned, Terrace would now complete a dynamic duo alongside Ja'Marr Chase, looking poised to set all kinds of LSU receiving records with their shared and individual output (especially with Arik Gilbert and Kayshon Boutte diverting some on-field attention).
Without any forecast or warning, a few months before the title-defense, LSU's #1 WR Ja'Marr Chase suddenly opted out, immediately promoting Terrace to the #1 WR spot...however, this also ended any opportunity for some serious over-the-top history....a 2019 encore:
Although many cautioned LSU fans away from thinking Myles Brennan could even come close to being Joe Burrow reincarnate, his connection with Marshall through the first 3 games of the season would tell a different story: #6 pulled in 21 receptions for 424 yards and 7 touchdowns in only 3 games....
Just imagine what Marshall and Chase's mere presence together would've provided for one another:
You can't cover one, you can't even cover both...and then you throw Arik Gilbert on the field, a mega-threat who must be dealt with next to a plethora of highly recruited up-and-coming receivers (Jenkins, Boutte, Moore, Palmer)....that's a recipe for both Marshall and Chase to hit 15+ TDs each.
Then, the running game has room to breathe, your offensive linemen are jazzed and juiced by these plays and everything is clicking.
Without any trusted receiving threat outside of Marshall on offense, our offensive line stopped performing at their optimum, we lacked a running game because of their lack of intensity, and these issues all combined to injure Myles Brennan.
Yes, Terrace still scored a touchdown every 3rd catch once again in 2020's first 3 games, proving unstoppable when running routes for Myles, but the offense was so one-dimensional it became easier for defenses to hone in on Terrace, knowing the ball would come his way. And while there was little defensive backs could do against #6's powerhouse prowess, the repeatedly telegraphed 3rd and 4th down targets aimed at Terrace became easier to defend (case in point Missouri, A&M, Auburn).
Showcasing his ludicrous receiving delicacies, even when the defense knew the ball was headed Marshall's way, 9 times out of 10 they couldn't do a damn thing about it.
Double-team, triple-team, jam him at the line, try to cheap shot him, trash talk him, try to intimidate him ....hit him as hard as you can...none of it rattles the young man...it begins to frighten cornerbacks, wondering what they have to do in order to stop this cat...and yes, I'm talking to you Mr. NFL General Manager:
If LSU didn't have the Biletnikoff-level wide out against Missouri or Mississippi State, perhaps the Tigers get blown off the field.....his importance in 2020 was unmatched, not only as an offensive titan, a focal point, or as a reliable electric avenue of ass-whooping destruction.
Even when Myles went down, Marshall refused to stop his freight train of blissful wonder with 2 renegade touchdowns against South Carolina under freshman QB T.J Finley.
The Pride Of Ponchatoula came right in and took up the Brennan to Marshall chemistry with ease, finding the National Championship-winning wide out routinely during the blow-out win........but soon after dropping 52 points on Will Muschamp's South Carolina, fortunes changed drastically for LSU's offense once again.
Against Auburn on Halloween afternoon, holding 2 losses already on the board, the Tigers were destroyed and Marshall was marked out of the game with ease, becoming the main obvious target the Tigers' offense perpetually fed.