Marrow running down a dream in HoustonWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For former University of Toledo cornerback Desmond Marrow, the road to achieving his dream of reaching the NFL has not been how he pictured it.
When he committed to UT in 2006, he had no idea that the Rockets would fall on hard times, failing to register a winning record until his fifth year with the team after racking up two Mid-American Conference championships and two bowl victories in the five seasons prior to his arrival. He had no idea that he’d suffer two serious injuries that would cost him two full seasons at Toledo and finish his collegiate career in 2011 at 24 years old and a sixth-year senior.
And when it came time for Marrow’s dream to finally take shape during the NFL Draft last month, those themes of difficulty and perseverance continued for the Youngstown native as he watched the draft round by round with family and friends back home and never saw his name flash across the bottom of the TV screen.
“I remember, like, two or three times I just went upstairs, man,” said Marrow, who received First Team All-MAC honors in 2011 after leading the Rockets with 83 tackles, intercepting three passes and ranking fourth in the country with 15 pass breakups. “Just laid in my room; just waited for my phone to ring.”
Though he went undrafted, Marrow’s opportunity to fulfill his dream came true. The Houston Texans, whom Marrow had visited in early April, were interested in him and kept in touch with him throughout the draft. Then Texans’ Defensive Backs Coach Vance Joseph finally gave Marrow a ring.
“They called me,” Marrow said. “They were like, ‘We want you.’ Then they told me that I was coming in with a chance to play right now and they couldn’t wait to get me down there, so it was pretty much a done deal after that.”
Given all he’s been through in the last six years, the moment was emotional for Marrow.
“When they called me, it was just crazy, man,” Marrow said. “My mom started crying; my aunts were crying; my cousins were crying; then I started crying. I mean, you want to play in the NFL your whole life — then it happens — then it’s like, ‘Man. It’s here.’ ”
As one of 21 undrafted free agents Houston agreed to terms with, Marrow will have to prove his worth to the Texans, whom he reportedly chose over Dallas, Detroit, Jacksonville, San Francisco and Tampa Bay.
Despite the 49ers being his favorite team growing up, having two former Toledo teammates on the Cowboys’ roster in safety Barry Church and center Kevin Kowalski, as well as recent teammates in former UT offensive lineman Mike VanDerMeulen and tight end Danny Noble heading down to Tampa Bay for a chance to play for the Buccaneers, Houston was ultimately where Marrow wanted to be.
“I mean, I’ve always been a person who will try to do everything, like, different from anyone else and try to leave my own legacy, pretty much,” Marrow said on choosing to sign with the Texans. “I just wanted to go up to Houston by myself, make my own mark and make a name for myself and help the team as much as I could.”
In addition to Houston not selecting any defensive backs in this year’s draft, another big factor in Marrow choosing the Texans was his initial impression after getting to spend time with some of the team’s brass during his visit last month.
“They’ve just got an overall great organization,” Marrow said. “I met [Houston head coach Gary] Kubiak. He’s a great coach. Then my position coaches [Vance Joseph and Perry Carter], both coaches were real good guys. I went out for dinner with them, and Houston’s just a nice city, man.”
Marrow said Houston likes that he can play either cornerback or safety, adding that he’s willing to compete wherever the team needs him. With his dream now in his grasp, Marrow’s ready to turn his opportunity into an NFL career.
“I mean, a lot of people want to play in the NFL, but they never get that chance,” Marrow said. “So I definitely just look at it as a blessing to have an opportunity.”
Houston’s organized team activities begin on May 21.