After final visit, Marshall has a leader

Keith Marshall is done with official visits and the five-star running back has a leader in mind.

Now, he just has to make sure he's making the right decision.

“Yeah,” the Raleigh (N.C.) Millbrook star said when asked if he had one school listed above the others, “but I'm still deciding. It's not like I'm 100-percent.”

Marshall, No. 6 in the ESPNU 150, declined to name his leader publicly. He'll keep that knowledge within his family until Dec. 6 when he plans to announce his decision during a news conference at his school. Before then, he and his family will sit down and put the final stamp on his decision.

“Now we just have to take stuff back and try to decide,” Marshall said. “My parents, we'll talk about it a lot, (like) wherever they think I'm leaning, then we'll make the decision.”

After an official visit to South Carolina, the Gamecocks had the chance to make a late impact on Marshall's decision. Marshall has strong relationships there with running back Marcus Lattimore and running backs coach Jay Graham, who was a star tailback for Tennessee in the 1990's.

The three can talk shop on a higher level than most.

“We had a good time,” Marshall said. “I got to talk to Marcus Lattimore a lot. Coach Graham, I like him a lot. He showed me a lot of different blocking schemes. When I've gone to other places, I've never really sat down and drew up plays and stuff. It's very obvious he knows what he's talking about.”

In addition to South Carolina, Marshall is also considering Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame and Clemson. Most think the Bulldogs could be the quiet leader, but the Gamecocks were the topic of conversation on Monday after his visit.

The chats with Lattimore may provide the most insight into the town, school and backfield at South Carolina. The two talked about academics, South Carolina's coaches and even chatted a bit about some other schools.

Marshall and Lattimore also talked about how the once pass-happy, former Florida coach Steve Spurrier is now a bit more ground oriented at South Carolina.

“[Lattimore] said they're a very balanced team and they like to run the ball to set up the pass,” Marshall said.

Marshall said he's fond of Columbia, which is a bit broader than some other cities he's visited on his search for a college football home.

“It's not just a college town,” he said. “There's other stuff going around in Columbia.”

Football and Columbia won't be the only factors in Marshall's evaluation of South Carolina. Marshall, who has a 4.3 grade point average, spent a good portion of his trip inspecting the Gamecocks' scholastic offerings and academic support.

“I think it's a pretty good school,” he said. “We met with [the] academics [staff] and they have a good program. I'm not sure how they're ranked, but I know they have a good program in place.”

Several schools will try to make one last pitch with visits this week. Coaches from Clemson, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia are all supposed to make the trip to Raleigh for in-home visits.

Less than two weeks before his announcement and little more than a month before he'll enroll in college, Marshall can see an end in sight.

“I'm ready to move on and get focused on college,” he said.

All he has to do now is make the final decision.