The recruiting process wasn’t easy for Marsalis Teague.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound athlete from Henry County High School in Paris, Tenn., originally committed to Florida but changed his mind and signed with Tennessee on Feb. 4.
Teague, who also considered Alabama, struggled with his college decision until the final days leading up to National Signing Day.
Teague talks about the recruiting process and his expectations for his time at UT during this Q&A.
Q: What did you most enjoy about the recruiting process?
A: Probably just getting to go to different campuses and meeting different coaches. Being with Coach (Urban) Meyer, Coach (Lane) Kiffin, Coach (Nick) Saban. Meeting those high-powered guys. Having in home visits like that. Seeing them in their office and on the job. Going to see them on campus.
Q: What was it like being with those coaches in person after watching them on television?
A: It’s kind of funny. I had seen Coach Kiffin with the Raiders and his relationship with Al Davis. When I looked at him on TV I never thought he’d be my college coach. It’s kind of funny to see him on the sidelines and now I know him in person. It’s kind of a good feeling.
Q: What was the hardest part about the recruiting process?
A: To me it just got really hectic I guess. I was just trying to stay calm and I wasn’t able to really. The media kind of got to me a little toward the end of the recruiting process. It wasn’t really stressful. To me it was kind of nervousness. Signing Day was close and at that time I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I was going to do. Everybody told me to relax and have a good time but I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t easy. I had three good schools I was looking at. The only thing to do was what my coach (Joe Gaddis) told me to do and that was just pray about it and God would lead me the right way. I found Tennessee was the best place for me.
Q: Was it hard to say “no” to Coach Meyer and Coach Saban?
A: It was probably harder to tell Coach Meyer “no” than Coach Saban because I was committed to Coach Meyer and the University of Florida. I talked to my coach about this and we talked about how colleges change their mind on kids all the time. My coach told me not to let the fact that I committed to Florida keep me from decommitting and signing with Tennessee. I like to be true to my word and I gave my word to Coach Meyer but at the same time this is my future.
Q: When did you know you would have a future playing football?
A: Probably after my junior year. Since I’ve been playing Pop Warner I’ve been telling my mom I wanted to go play football at this school or that school. I’d tell her I wanted to go play in the NFL and then when it was basketball season I’d turn around and say I wanted to play in the NBA. Whatever season it was I wanted to play that. I probably got serious about playing football at the next level after my junior year. I said, “Hey I might have a shot at making it somewhere.”
Q: What is your favorite part about playing football?
A: I like making somebody miss in the open field. I like getting the ball in the open field and have someone say, “Dang, did you see that move? Nobody could catch him on that play.” I’ll score a touchdown and they’ll go back to the sideline and say, “Coach, he’s too fast for me.” But I just love playing the game so whatever part of it is fun to me.
Q: What do you do if someone talks trash to you?
A: I’ll smile at him and say, “Is that right?” People talk to me when they tackle me. Next time I run the ball I just laugh about it. I go back to the huddle and say, “He thinks he’s going to stop me. We’ll see what happens.” I’ll look at him but I won’t say anything. I don’t really say anything.
Q: What will the adjustment to college be like?
A: I think probably what a lot of the coaches told me about was time management skills. As far as the football side I guess the game speed. I’ll have to get adjusted to the game speed and the intensity in practice. I found that in Knoxville during my spring break. The intensity they had in practice was almost like a game-type atmosphere.
Q: What is one thing about you fans might not know?
A: I’m a hard worker and I’ll be willing to play offense, defense or special teams. I’ll do whatever it takes to get a win. I had to punt in some of our high schools game. I told my coach I’d do whatever he wanted me to do to help the team win.
Q: Have you thought about how popular you might be to the fans as a player from the state of Tennessee?
A: That’s one of the main things Coach Kiffin and Coach (Ed) Orgeron pushed toward me when they came to my house that last time. They said the fans would have a huge appreciation for the in-state guys and me being one of the top players in the state. At first that never really crossed my mind because I had to do what’s best for me. But then I began to look at Tennessee in a different way. My coach started liking Tennessee, too. He said if I went there or not he’d try to follow Tennessee. He’s a big Alabama fan. My parents and uncle told me, “If you go to Tennessee the state of Tennessee if going to love you more.” I said, “Yeah, that’s true.” I came to that realization to go to Tennessee.
Q: What are your goals at UT?
A: I just want to win a national championship and have the best four years of my life. Of course I want to win a national championship because all the individual awards don’t really mean much if you don’t get a national championship or some kind of championship. I got the Mr. Football award but it didn’t mean much because we didn’t win the state title. I’m worried more about the team awards and the individual stuff will take care of itself.
Q: You’re going to be a roommate of wide receiver Nu’Keese Richardson, who also signed with UT after committing to Florida. Will there be competition between you two guys?
A: There’s always going to be some kind of competition wherever you look. Everybody on the field will be fighting for a position. Nu’Keese and I have been cool for a while now since I took my official visit to Florida. I wish him the best of luck trying to get his spot but at the same time I’m not going to lie down and give it up.
Q: What did you think of the attention that surrounded Nu’Keese, Coach Kiffin and Coach Meyer after Signing Day?
A: I thought it was funny to tell you truth. I don’t think it really bothered him too much. I started calling him and giving him a hard time about it but then I thought he probably didn’t want to talk about it. It was all over ESPN though. I was like, he’s probably happy he’s got his name all over ESPN.