Florida cornerback named to ESPN’s preseason true freshman All-American list

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Despite the on-field improvements across the board under coach Dan Mullen, there’s one area the Gators continue to lag behind in: recruiting. Mullen has never had a class at Florida finish better than ninth in the country, and UF has especially struggled to land five-star recruits.

But the 2021 class, which finished ranked 12th in the country (per the 247Sports Composite), featured one of the biggest recruiting wins of the Mullen era when five-star Miami Palmetto cornerback Jason Marshall gave the team his pledge. Marshall, the No. 29 player in the nation, was the highest-rated recruit in Florida’s signing class.

He was expected to see some action as a reserve in 2021, but that changed when presumed starter Jaydon Hill went down in fall camp with a season-ending ACL tear. Now, Marshall will compete with transfers Elijah Blades and Jadarrius Perkins for the starting spot opposite Kaiir Elam.

Marshall was already a highly anticipated player, and now it seems that injuries will force him to play a more significant role in Year 1 than many expected. For that reason, ESPN named Marshall to its true freshman preseason All-American team.

Marshall is expected to restore the DBU moniker as a young leader in a revamped secondary. The No. 44 overall prospect in the 2021 class will likely man the cornerback spot opposite Kaiir Elam.

As Tom Luginbill notes, Florida hasn’t been able to stake a strong claim on the DBU title in a while now, but with Elam and Marshall lined up in the defensive backfield, it may be making a comeback. Like Marshall, injuries thrust Elam into a bigger role than was anticipated in 2019, and he shined in the absence of C.J. Henderson.

The Gators will hope for a similar arc from Marshall, who looks to be a difference-maker for a secondary that, outside of Elam, struggled mightily in 2020.

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