Santee Marshall is not your average Division I football player.
The 5’10” Jackson State running back has taken an unconventional road to become a playmaker for head coach Deion Sanders’ offense.
“He’s a model to any walk-on in the country of his resilience, and I love him to life,” the NFL Hall of Famer says. “He never complains, never bickers. He just goes out there and balls.”
Santee Marshall originally transferred over from Division II Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama to play for then-head coach John Hendrick.
But after the Tigers fired Hendrick, Marshall was forced to try out for the team as a walk-on. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the cut.
But he didn’t give up. He was determined to find a way – any way – to get on the field.
Initially, Marshall badgered the coaching staff with texts, calls, emails, and visits to their office. No dice.
So he found an alternative.
His friend put him in touch with the team’s head cameraman, who gave Santee a spot on the video team. Now he had a legitimate reason to be around the coaches and team.
“It was like I saw the light at the end of the tunnel,” Marshall told Andscape. “And I just felt like some good was going to come out of my situation.”
Between filming practices, Santee continued pushing for another chance with the coaches.
Finally, when injuries started piling up for the squad, the staff added him to their scout team. From there, Marshall continued to push. With more injuries happening, playing time started looking like a real possibility.
One thing led to another, and suddenly, Santee Marshall was the starting running back for Jackson State University.
He took the opportunity and ran with it – literally – racking up 122 yards and 2 touchdowns against Alabama A&M.
The following week, after running for another 96 yards and a touchdown against Alabama State, Marshall got a surprise he’d never expected – a full scholarship.
We had the opportunity to sit down for a quick interview with Santee Marshall to learn more about his unorthodox path.
What kind of a player were you growing up?
Growing up I was always the best or one of the best players on my team. I was small but very speedy and tough.
I always had a lot of friends because of football. It created bonds that would last a lifetime.
After Coach Hendrick left, and you didn’t make the new roster as a walk-on, what was your thought process? How did you fight your way back onto the team?
My thought process was I have to find a way to get on the field.
I transferred over to Jackson State and had to use a redshirt year. Then COVID hit and canceled the next fall season. So it was almost two years that I didn’t play football, so I really wanted to get on the field because I knew what I can do.
I tried calling the coaches over and over but they weren’t responding. So I went over to the coaches’ office and talked to the personnel and recruiting coach. He said there weren’t any spots and I could try to get a position on staff to get around the team and coaches.
So my brother Warren got me and the head cameraman in contact and I started working from there. The coach I talked to said if I get on the staff he would try to look out for me and get me on the team. So I worked the camera for a few weeks while still asking about joining the team.
Then one day the coach came to me and said I could dress out.
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