Today, Vanderbilt landed its fourteenth commitment in running back target Ja’Veon Marlow. The 5-foot-10 and 200-pound Florida native chose the Commodores over Nebraska, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, and others.
VandySports.com sat down with Winter Haven running backs coach Ali Cannon to get a closer look at Vanderbilt’s newest commit.
VandySports.com: What type of player is Vanderbilt getting in Ja’Veon Marlow?
Ali Cannon: “He is a very hard worker. He is someone that is diligent in becoming the best athlete and student that he can be. He’s a film rat. He likes to watch and critique himself while watching film. He’s blue collar. He played fullback for us as a sophomore, and he is just someone that embraces the toughness of the game. Some people shy away from those things. He is not one of those people as he embraces those things. He’s had to wait his moment as he was behind another that was a division 1 running back. He played fullback. As a junior, Ja’Veon became the feature back for the first time. He worked himself into being a dynamic, feature back in this state in a great conference.”
VS: How will Ja’Veon Marlow’s skill set translate to the college game?
AC: “He’s a strong guy that is very, very explosive. He’s up to 315-pounds on the bench press, and he power cleans 300-pounds as well. He’s very explosive with great hips. He can really transfer power and is a load to tackle as the game goes on. If you think about the conference that Vanderbilt plays in, all of those opponents want to stop the run. He’s not going to be a light cat that is going to be bounced out or not be able to finish. His hips are strong, and he has great hands out of the backfield. Everybody likes the fact that every time he touches the ball that it can be a house call from wherever.”
VS: What’s the best individual play that you’ve seen from Ja’Veon Marlow?
AC: “This past spring, he was very sporty. It was a power play or outside zone play, and he went 60 yards after running over three defenders. With some younger kids, they like to stop their feet or don’t move on contact. He just sped up on the power play, and there was no soft spot for the defender to try to tackle him. Those three defenders really felt that 200-pound running downhill. That was a big play this past spring, and I had to pinch myself after that. He had three touchdowns in the spring, and we were like ‘wow’. He’s as good as advertised. Athletes have to deal with the pressure of living up to the hype or expectations, but he was as advertised that night. He has had some other games where we can give it to him 40 times, and we know the other team can’t stop him. That power play when he ran through those defenders was special.
VS: What part of Marlow’s game needs improvement?
AC: “He’s going to play some defense for us in spots this year. He will have to play fast on defense. On offense, we would like to see him be able to line up out wide and catch some balls. He could be like James White that played for Coach Genyk at Wisconsin and ended up being a Super Bowl MVP. He could be that guy that lines up wide in a 5-wide set. We are going to try to make some mismatches and get him comfortable out there. He’s a great athlete, but sometimes we give athletes too much credit as being natural. You have to work on it, and it’s just like riding a bike. The more you do it then the more comfortable you get while doing it. That’s something that he could be dominant at. For his whole career, he played with an older quarterback. Going into the spring, we went in with a 10th grader at the position. This is the most vocal that I’ve seen from Ja’Veon as a leader. He was helping with every position. He knew how to get everyone lined up, and he knows how to lead the huddle when the coaches are not around.”