Adversity doesn’t make you special. Everyone faces it at some point or another. What makes you special is how you respond to the hardship when it finds you.
For Northwestern State senior defensive lineman JeMarcus Marshall, his life could have been defined by adversity. Instead, Marshall is writing his own definition, and in the process, is helping others do the same.
The 6-4, 260-pound defensive end hails from Monroe, where he starred for Ouachita Parish High School before signing with NSU.
“Everything just felt right on my visit (to NSU),” Marshall said. “The coaches and players all treated me like family.”
After redshirting for the Demons, Marshall had a breakout year when he took the field in 2013, registering 8.5 sacks as a freshman. He was named to the College Sports Journal FCS All-Freshman All-America Team.
Then, three games into a promising sophomore year, adversity struck. After returning a fumble for a touchdown to start a rout of Southern, Marshall was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his back that would require surgery. His season, and perhaps his career, was over.
All of his emotion boiled over after the first game he missed, when the Demons played ancient rival Louisiana Tech for the first time in 20 years, and NSU pulled off the 30-27 comeback win in Ruston.
While down, Marshall refused to let the injury knock him out. Instead, he focused on the things he could control: schoolwork and recovery.
A psychology major, he delved into his studies and was named to the 2014 Southland Conference Commissioner’s Fall Honor Roll.
He attacked his physical therapy process, despite not knowing what the outcome would bring. If pain was the only thing standing in the way of joining his brothers again, then there was no stopping Marshall from a return to action.
Now a senior, Marshall is fourth on the team in tackles, tied for second in sacks, and tied for first in interceptions, all while playing with a litany of injuries throughout the year.
Already holding a degree in psychology, Marshall is currently enrolled in the counseling psychology graduate program at NSU. He aspires to one day open a family counseling clinic.