‘WHERE IS MARLIN?’ Alexander, Richardson put tiny Texas town on national ESPN map…
‘WHERE IS MARLIN?’
Alexander, Richardson put tiny Texas town on national ESPN map…
By Denton Ramsey, Managing Editor
Prior to the final week of the regular season in NCAA football, a majority of the nation had never heard of Marlin, Texas.
During a live Big 12 telecast between Missouri and Kansas on Saturday, Nov. 23, ABC analysts Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salters, along with the rest of the country, were left to ponder, “Where is Marlin?”
Although an answer was never given, as ABC soon cut to a commercial break, there’s no doubt that the media trio of Musburger, Herbstreit and Salters, as well as fans of ESPN’s SportsCenter and the weekly ‘Pontiac Game Changing Performance,’ now know Marlin’s pinpoint location.
Meanwhile, the small Central Texas town of 6,000 has been in dire need of positive news in a community flooded with negativity.
On Saturday, Nov. 23, Marlin’s prayer was answered – on the gridiron – with a pair of local athletes shining in the national spotlight…
Former MHS standouts introduce SportsCenter, Pontiac to Marlin
Bulldogs Football Head Coach Jerry Malone came to Marlin, Texas 16 years ago with one goal in mind: to make ball players out of the community’s high school athletes.
That goal has been met, especially as of recently – with a duo of former high school stars chasing daylight in the ‘Pontiac Game Changing Performance’ of the week while also making the highlight reels on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
In 2003, defensive standout Matterral “Red” Richardson graduated from Marlin High School before moving on to college at the University of Arkansas as a Razorbacks cornerback.
Richardson’s story is about to be told.
In 2005, wide receiver Danario Alexander walked the stage at MHS before relocating to Missouri University to play college football for the Big 12’s Tigers.
Alexander’s story is also about to be told.
In 2008, highly touted running back Travis Miller will receive his diploma from MHS prior to hitting the gridiron for the Oklahoma State Cowboys next year in Stillwater.
The ‘Miller Time’ story, meanwhile, has yet to be told…
Richardson’s triple overtime pick seals Arkansas’ upset victory over LSU
Richardson, a senior cornerback on the Arkansas Razorbacks football team, began his standout pigskin career in 1999 as a high school freshman in Marlin.
During his senior year at MHS, Richardson made 87 tackles while garnering seven interceptions – a major factor in the Bulldogs state championship berth against Atlanta High School in 2003.
In addition to the Razorbacks, Richardson was also recruited by TCU and the Big 12’s Kansas and Texas A&M University.
Through his four seasons in the Arkansas secondary, Richardson has remained a constant threat on the field of play.
In 2006, during Richardson’s junior year, the star cornerback was a full-time starter for the Razorbacks and ended the season tied for seventh on the Arkansas tackle list with 63 stops, going solo on 51 of them, while picking up a forced fumble and interception along the way.
The biggest play of his college career, however, came in the regular season finale of his senior year as Arkansas went up against then-No. 1 LSU on Saturday, Nov. 24.
In the third overtime of an ‘ESPN Classic,’ Richardson capped an amazing Arkansas upset win over LSU when he intercepted a potential game-tying two-point conversion pass attempt to seal the deal on a 50-48 Razorbacks victory.
Richardson’s play went on to clinch the ‘Pontiac Game Changing Performance’ for week 13 in the 2007 NCAA football season, earning a nomination for ‘Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the Year’ while beating out three other finalists – including one with former Bulldogs receiver Alexander and his breakout game against Kansas.
Now, with four seasons of NCAA football under his belt, Marlin’s star in the secondary may be shooting for a job in the National Football League.
Only time will tell, with the 2008 NFL Draft right around the corner…
Alexander’s breakout game propels Tigers to victory over Jayhawks
Alexander, a sophomore wide receiver on the Missouri Tigers football team, began showing signs of greatness early on in his high school playing career.
As a senior at MHS in 2005, Alexander earned honorable mention All-State and First-Team All District honors in a season that saw the receiver pull in 49 catches for 850 yards and nine touchdowns.
In addition to his standout stats on the gridiron, Alexander was also a First-Team All-District baseball player and the district champion in the long jump and triple jump in 2005 – putting up season-best jumps of 23’10” and 45’10”, respectively.
Alexander chose Missouri over local colleges in Texas Tech, Baylor University, the University of Houston and SMU – mostly due to the Tigers being the first to show interest in the Marlin receiver.
During his true freshman year as a Tigers receiver, Alexander played in 13 games while picking up 15 receptions for 251 yards and a touchdown – giving the young receiver a 16.7 yards-per-catch average in 2006.
Alexander worked his tail off in the off-season, proving to the Tigers coaching staff that he possesses a compelling combination of size, speed and the athletic ability to haul in numerous catches.
His hard work and dedication, no doubt something he first learned under the leadership of Malone while at MHS, paid off as Alexander took home the Tigers’ most improved wide receiver award for his efforts in spring camp.
It also landed him a starting spot at WR on the 2007 Mizzou Tigers depth-chart.
Missouri’s young Marlin recruit began the year on the right foot, racking up a career-high nine catches for 82 yards in a season-opener victory over Illinois.
Unfortunately, Alexander left the game early with a wrist injury – forcing him to sit out the Tigers’ next three games before returning to the team’s offense as a backseat option.
The primary reason for Alexander’s new role on the squad was due to redshirt freshman Jeremy Maclain developing into a phenomenal star under the national spotlight after sitting out last season with an injury.
However, Alexander remained humble – no doubt, once again, something he picked up while still learning the X’s and O’s of the game at MHS under Malone – and waited patiently for his moment to shine.
On Saturday, Nov. 23 at Arrowhead Stadium, that moment came as Alexander had a breakout game on the national center stage in Missouri’s Big 12 North title-clinching eight-point victory over Kansas.
In Saturday’s Big 12 showdown between the Tigers and Jayhawks, Alexander caught eight passes for 117 yards – including a decisive 16-yard pickup on third-and-long midway through the final quarter of play after Kansas had cut into the Missouri lead at 31-21.
Alexander also rose to the occasion in Missouri’s second quarter drive that was capped off by a beautiful third down catch by the Marlin wide receiver in the corner of the end zone – giving the Tigers a comfortable cushion over the Jayhawks.
Although Alexander fell short against former teammate Richardson in the voting for week 13’s ‘Pontiac Game Changing Performance,’ there’s no doubt that the Tigers receiver is ecstatic just to be listed as a finalists in the final week of the regular season.
On top of that, Alexander’s performance against Kansas reiterates what Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel and his coaching staff envisioned when they signed the young star as a senior out of Marlin just two short years ago.
With Alexander chasing daylight – showcasing an array of talent while constantly proving himself to fans, coaches, teammates and the nation alike – it’s easy to see why the Marlin recruit is one of the most gifted athletes in his class.
And it’s only a matter of time before Alexander once again flashes his greatness before the eyes and ears of sports fan around America, with the Tigers laying the tracks to use the Marlin star in a variety of ways during the remainder of his collegiate playing career.
With the way things are looking, Alexander may also find himself on an NFL gridiron in the years to come…
Miller Time: potential future star yet to be unleashed…
Miller, a speedy, talented, multipurpose back with incredible potential, will be donning an Oklahoma State Cowboys jersey come August 2008.
For Miller, his senior season ended with a bittersweet loss to the rival Mart Panthers as the 2007 Bulldogs failed to reach postseason play for the first time in a decade.
But there’s more to Miller than a win-loss record.
Statistically, Miller can hang with the best – as Marlin’s star back found himself amongst the leaders in the rushing department with 11 touchdowns and 829 yards during his 2007 campaign.
In other aspects of the game, Miller had 14 catches and a touchdown in the reception department while picking up a punt-return TD, a kickoff-return TD and an interception that was returned for a touchdown along the way.
The ‘Miller Time’ pages for 2008 have yet to be written.
But it’s only a matter of moments before Miller gets his own chance to shine, giving the soon-to-be graduate a shot at joining the ranks of the MHS alumni standouts in his rearview mirror.
Come mid-2008, ‘Miller Time’ will officially arrive in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Watch out, Big 12, the Cowboys very well might have an under-the-radar future star in Marlin’s latest and greatest recruit to join the NCAA ranks…
Texas trend: Coach Malone keeps the ball rolling in gridiron recruiting…
When all is said and done, Marlin’s superb homegrown talent speaks magnitudes of Coach Malone.
Malone, who owns a Mike Krzyzewski-like record of 128-53 as the Bulldogs head coach, remains humble as he embarks upon his 17th season at the helm of the Marlin football program.
In addition, the program went nine straight years with an undefeated district mark in the regular season from 1998 through 2006, as well as making 10 consecutive postseason appearances from 1997 through 2006.
Through 22 seasons as a high school football coach, Malone’s overall record is quite impressive at 175-76-2.
And there’s no doubt there will be many more wins to cherish as Malone and his outstanding staff of assistant coaches prepare for another Texas 2A title run with the Bulldogs in 2008…
Marlin receives dose of good news as town’s sports stars shine
For a town eager to soak up some encouraging news, Marlin football supremacy is about as good as it gets – especially in the Lone Star State.
Although Marlin’s football team took an unexpected early exit from postseason play this year, the Bulldogs remain in the spotlight.
For a town racked with pessimism and doubt, a simple sports message has sent a sense of positive reinforcement to a community in serious need of comradery.
And the sports world, once again, has pulled a town together over pigskin passion, community pride and a boundless love of the game.
For now, the City of Marlin has something to smile about, as the Bulldogs football program is on top of the world.
And Marlin, Texas is now on ESPN’s national map of talent…
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at email@example.com