FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Junior defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall is expected to play a key role for Arkansas’ defensive line this fall.
Marshall is one of the interior defensive linemen on the Arkansas front. He is making headlines recently because of his work in the weight room. Tru Carroll, Arkansas’ strength and conditioning coach, had high praise for Marshall on Monday when asked who is the strongest player on the team?
“From a strength standpoint, Jon Marshall hands down,” Carroll said. “He’s as strong as a human being as I’ve ever been around. He puts up some astronomical numbers on the clean squat and bench press. So to honestly giving him an accurate gauge of what his true max is, I can’t tell you what that is. Because that kind of weight doesn’t fit on the bars that we have in the weightroom.”
Marshall signed with Arkansas in the Class of 2016 out of Shepherd (Texas) High School. On Saturday, Marshall talked about how much his numbers in the weight room have improved at Arkansas.
“I have improved a lot on numbers I would say, but I feel I’m a lot stronger and more explosive since Coach Tru and them are here,” Marshall said. “That helps a lot.”
In 2018, Marshall played in 11 games. He finished with 14 tackles, including four unassisted. Since he arrived, Arkansas has gone from a 4-3 to 3-4 and back to 4-3 base front on defense. Count Marshall among those a fan of what John Chavis has brought to the defense.
“I love the defense Coach Chavis brought in here because it’s all attack mode,” Marshall said. “That’s all it is.”
What is it about the attacking defensive style that you like better than the read-and-react defense?
“Reading is good sometimes, but I feel the attacking is a lot better for what we are doing now,” Richardson said. “But the reading back then for what we were doing I feel was a good scheme.”
Kenny Ingram replaced John Scott Jr. as the interior defensive line coach following the 2018 season. Marshall likes what Ingram has brought to the team.
“Coach Ingram is a great dude,” Marshall said. “Nice personality, nice everything. You can’t really say anything bad about Coach Ingram because he’s nice to everybody and always smiling. He will get on to you when he needs to, but then he will start smiling right after it.”
Marshall along with McTelvin Agim and T.J. Smith give Arkansas some experienced players on the interior of the defensive line. The three of them provide some competition for each other.
“Competition brings out the best in everyone to be honest,” Marshall said. “Cause you are always trying to compete for something. I feel like competition between me, T.J. and Sosa makes all of us better because it’s pushing all of us to the best of our ability.”
On Friday night, Chad Morris talked about Agim, Marshall and Smith on the interior defensive line.
“Yeah, I thought you noticed a big difference last spring with Sosa moving inside and making that commitment and choosing to come back and strictly move inside and take the role that Chief and our defensive staff have asked of him,” Morris said. “He bought fully in. He changed and continued to add good weight. Got up to, I think he’s right at 300. He’s as strong as he’s ever been and as fast as he’s ever been. If the spring was any indication of how disruptive he could be this fall, he’ll have a great fall. He’ll continue to put the hard work n and the expectations we’re asking of him. But I can promise you our expectations of him are not as high as his expectations for this year. I’m excited about Sosa.
“I think that Jonathan Marshall … he’s the strongest guy on this football team. He’s got a 30-something, 31, 32-inch vertical jump. He’s explosive. As I’ve shared with him, now’s the time. We’ve got to take that and put it on the football field. T.J. Smith, obviously he’s a leader of this football team. Very driven. I think that interior rotation. I think we obviously had an opportunity to have some depth at that position.”
Having depth on the defensive line is important and that was something Marshall talked about on Saturday.
“For D-tackle it’s very important,” Marshall said. “Because we have contact every play and we’re bigger guys.”
Arkansas has some freshmen interior defensive linemen in Enoch Jackson Jr., Taurean Carter and Marcus Miller. Marshall is impressed with that group.
“They are gonna be great,” Marshall said. “They’ve got a lot of developing to do right now. They just got here like in June. All the older guys are trying to mentor them through all the stuff right now. Once fall camp is over with they will have a better understanding and we’ll see what they do then.”
Marshall talked about what he feels are his strengths on the field.
“I’m pretty good at stopping the run,” Marshall said.
Arkansas’ defense produced 16 turnovers last season. Can that number improve in 2019?
“Forcing turnovers is what we’ve been preaching a lot,” Marshall said. “Last year we were just more focused on trying to understand the plays and that stuff. Last year was the first year learning a new system like everybody else.”
Marshall said this year the team knows what to do so they can just play and not have to think as much.
Arkansas will return to the practice field on Monday morning at 10:05 a.m.. They open the season on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium against Portland State.