Marrow has heartbreaking history with NIUWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
NOTE: This is the 11th installment of a weekly series in which staff writer Mike Bauman will follow sixth-year Toledo senior cornerback Desmond Marrow for the 2011 season.
Superman has Lex Luthor. Batman has the Joker. Sixth-year Toledo senior cornerback Desmond Marrow has Northern Illinois. For Marrow, who earned Mid-American Conference West Division Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second straight week after leading UT with six tackles and two interceptions in a 49-28 victory over Miami (Ohio) on Oct. 22, the Huskies have been a personal source of pain for three years running.
“It means a lot,” Marrow said of the Rockets’ matchup with Northern Illinois on Nov. 1. “I’ve got a lot of history with Northern Illinois, mostly bad history.”
A week after Toledo pulled off one of the biggest upsets in program history with a 13-10 win over Michigan at the Big House in 2008, Marrow tore his ACL and meniscus on the opening kickoff at NIU, costing him the rest of 2008 and all of 2009. Marrow had started every game that season after missing all of 2007 with a hamstring injury. Last year, the Rockets got thumped 65-30 by the Huskies on the road in a contest that broke a first-place tie in the MAC West Division, ending UT’s hopes of getting to the MAC Championship at Ford Field.
“There’s a little bit of extra [motivation] going into this one,” said Marrow, who leads Toledo with 48 tackles, 10 pass deflections, eight pass breakups and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions this season. “But just like coach [Beckman] said, it’s just like any other game. It’s just the next one. The next one’s the most important, so if we handle Northern Illinois, then we’ll be fine.”
A victory against Northern Illinois would mean a lot to Marrow, who hasn’t been part of an NIU win since 2006.
“This would probably rank up there with Michigan—not as much as beating Michigan, but this would be just 1a, 1b, so the same thing,” Marrow said.
Three years ago, Marrow had no idea if or when he’d be fine again after going down against the Huskies.
“I had just came off an injury with my hamstring,” Marrow said. “We had just beat Michigan and I was like, ‘Man, why would this happen to me?’ I just didn’t know what was next, like if I was ever going to play again or if I would have the drive or want to play again, especially with rehab and the pain and everything. It was definitely a tough time.”
Luckily for Marrow, he had both the love and the wisdom of his parents to guide him through that experience. His mother, Pam, took time off work to come up to Toledo to stay with him after the surgery. And his father, Duane, knew all too well what Marrow was going through, having torn his ACL when he was a sophomore at Wisconsin.
“A couple weeks before I got hurt my dad passed away,” Duane said in an August interview. “When I got hurt, early on I was told that something may have gone wrong in the surgery, so I had that scheme playing in my mind. And then the rehab was just, oh, my God, the pain and so forth.”
Duane ended up taking incompletes in several classes, and his knee never got back to where he thought it needed to be. All by himself, many miles away from his family in Youngstown and discouraged, Duane returned home, leaving Wisconsin and his football dreams behind.
“You will always have to experience something personally yourself to be able to extract the good out of it,” Duane said. “Going through that, I was able to just say, ‘OK, I can channel this to my son’s situation. He can learn about what I went through that he can make it through this.’”
While Marrow is driven to achieve his goals of a MAC Championship and playing in the NFL, knowing what his dad went through has also inspired him.
“It’s a little bit 50-50,” Marrow said. “I would say it’s more so like, I want to make it for myself and I want to accomplish all these things for myself, but my dad, that’s always in my mind. It’s always right there. I always just want to succeed and do things for my dad because I know it was his dream to win championships in college and be a great player.
“He was, like, one of the better players in the nation when he came out, but he got hurt. He always wanted to play in the NFL, but I just want to get there for my dad because I know my dream is kind of like his dream.”