D3′s Corner: Postseason success for All-MAC MarrowWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
NOTE: This is the 16th installment of a weekly series in which staff writer Mike Bauman will follow sixth-year Toledo senior cornerback Desmond Marrow for the 2011 season.
While sixth-year senior cornerback Desmond Marrow and Toledo fell short of their goal of playing in the 2011 Mid-American Conference Championship, the season was not a failure. In Marrow’s final year with the Rockets (8-4, 7-1 MAC), who still have the opportunity to end the season as champions with a likely bowl berth for the second-straight year, the Youngstown native earned First-Team All-MAC honors.
“Man, it feels sweet just to finally make it,” Marrow said. “Like, I always wanted to make First-Team [All-MAC]. I didn’t even make any teams last year. I thought I would make something, but just to come back and finally get it, it’s, like, amazing.”
Marrow was one of six Toledo players to earn All-MAC honors in 2011 as he led UT with 78 tackles and 17 pass deflections. He also ranks second in the conference with 14 pass breakups and is tied for seventh in the MAC with three interceptions.
“Yeah, man,” Marrow said when asked if he got emotional when he received the news. “I always wanted to do good and I kept getting hurt, getting set back. I kind of thought that maybe, like, this wasn’t for me or I made a bad choice for coming here, but I just never gave up, man. I just tried to stay positive.”
The Rockets’ 14-2 record in MAC competition over the past two years is the best since Toledo went a combined 10-0 in conference play in the 1970 and 1971 seasons. UT also ranks No. 8 in the nation in total offense with 493.17 yards per game and set a school record by scoring 40 or more points in five-straight contests, making it an attractive bowl participant.
“When I found out I got my sixth year, I was just like, ‘I’m going to make the best of it; I’m going to have my best season yet and just try to help the team as much as I can,’” Marrow said. “And then, I guess, leading in all those categories, I guess I did that. I just had a good time this year to come back with the guys winning.”
The Rockets earned a share of the MAC West Division title with Northern Illinois but missed the MAC Championship since the Huskies defeated Toledo 63-60 on Nov. 1. UT will likely earn a spot in one of the conference’s three automatic bowl tie-ins: the GoDaddy.com Bowl (Jan. 8 in Mobile, Ala.), the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Dec. 27 in Detroit) and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 17 in Boise, Idaho).
The GoDaddy.com Bowl has the first choice among MAC teams this year and will likely take the winner of the MAC Championship to face Arkansas State. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is supposed to feature the MAC’s No. 2 team vs. the Big Ten’s No. 8 team, while the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is supposed to pit the MAC’s No. 3 squad against Utah State.
However, given UT’s proximity to Detroit and its high-scoring offense, the Rockets could be headed to Ford Field for the second-straight year. Though it’s only speculation until bowl matchups are officially announced Dec. 4, both Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com and CollegeBCS.com and ESPN’s Brad Edwards have Toledo taking on Northwestern in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, where UT fell 34-32 to Florida International University last season.
“That’d be nice to play against Northwestern,” Marrow said. “I think coach Ayeni, he played there, so he’s got some ties with Northwestern. And then the Big Ten game, just another chance for us as a team to see how good of a team we are against a Big Ten opponent.”
Getting the chance to end his collegiate career as a champion and receiving All-MAC honors aren’t the only things that have Marrow smiling. He recently learned that his sports apparel company M.P.O.D. — which stands for “Make Plays Or Die” — with longtime friends Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Kevin Moses has a potential marketing deal of $2.5 million.
“We’ve got a bunch of investors lined up that are ready to invest money into the company and get us going in the right direction,” Marrow said. “We’ve got like three or four lined up. I’ve got a couple meetings once I’m done with the season and go from there.”
According to Marrow, the $2.5 million offer came from one person. M.P.O.D., which had more than 700 followers on its Twitter account in August, has now grown to more than 1,300 followers. His company’s growth is just the icing on the cake for the All-MAC performer.
“It’s crazy,” Marrow said of the M.P.O.D. movement. “The following’s getting bigger and things are just getting on a roll at the right time. It’s, like, perfect timing, really.”