Petaluma’s Marsh still getting his kicks with Rutgers

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Petaluma graduate Nick Marsh, now playing for Rutgers, is second in the American Athletic Conference in kickoff net distance. (Photo from Rutgers University)

Petaluma graduate Nick Marsh, now playing for Rutgers, is second in the American Athletic Conference in kickoff net distance. (Photo from Rutgers University)

Pinpoint punts and soaring kickoffs have Nick Marsh fulfilling his ambition to compete as a complete kicker at the major college level.

PROFILE

Nick Marsh

Age: 22

College: Rutgers (2013), second in American Athletic Conference kickoff net distance

Utah: (2010-12), 25 touchbacks in 60 attempts as junior; third in Pac-12 average kickoff distance as sophomore

High school: Petaluma, All-Empire 2008 and 2009

Rutgers provided the opportunity for the sturdy specialist from Petaluma High with one season remaining in the college game. After three years with Utah, mostly limited to kickoffs, Marsh sought one last chance at a bigger role.

“I’ve put so many hours into this I might as well go as long as possible,” Marsh said. “They gave me a shot out here and it’s worked out. I’ve had some really good games.”

Preparing for Rutgers’ homecoming game today against Houston, Marsh has another opportunity to showcase his skills. Playing professionally is the ultimate aim.

“Nick has always had incredible leg strength and natural ability,” said Chris Sailer, a national coach who leads kicking showcases. “Nick wants to be the best. Nick wants to go pro and I think he is earning that chance.”

At the midpoint of the 2013 season Marsh is kicking off with the best in the NCAA Division I ranks. Marsh is second in the American Athletic Conference in kickoff net distance including nine touchbacks.

Punting in games for the first time in two years, Marsh is more and more comfortable and consistent. Against nationally ranked Louisville in the Scarlet Knights’ most recent game, Marsh put down two of four punts inside the 20-yard line and a season-long 58-yard punt.

“I’ve had some really good practices and I’m having some success,” Marsh said. “I want to help out my team as much as possible.”

Since his first youth games and through a pair of All-Empire seasons at Petaluma High School, Marsh has enjoyed the challenge of handling all his team’s kicking duties.

Winning a national punting competition and ranking among the best kickers at Sailer’s camps helped Marsh gain a scholarship to play for Utah. He took a redshirt year as a freshman and then won the kickoff job.

Highlights included 25 touchbacks in 60 attempts as a junior and ranking third in the Pac-12 for average kickoff distance his sophomore season.

Playing in bowl games against Boise State and Georgia Tech were great experiences.

“The Pac-12 has some great teams. Playing in a bowl game is always the goal,” he said.

Still the seasons at Utah seemed less than complete. Opportunities to punt were limited and Marsh ultimately transferred when Utah’s coaches went with new kickers.

“Rutgers had a void on the team so I decided to come out here and try a new lifestyle,” Marsh said of his move to New Jersey. “The coaches believe in me.”

First he completed his Utah bachelor’s degree in business administration. Marsh is a graduate student at Rutgers in labor and employment relations. He plans on seeking a master’s in business administration.

For the football season Marsh prepared by improving his punting game Marsh journeyed to Australia this past summer with a Utah roommate from down under. Working out with Australian rules football players helped Marsh gain greater leg strength for sky-high kicks and an end-over-end style to pin balls near the goal line.

“It’s helped a lot. Those kicks put our defense in some really good positions,” Marsh said.

Putting in time and effort to improve has always been a plus for Marsh.

“Nick is a hard worker,” Sailer said. “He could have easily walked away from Utah and called it quits. But he wanted one last chance to show the nation what he could do.”

Not many college kickers do double duty — punts and kickoffs — and being successful at both is even more rare.

Marsh is motivated to help put the Scarlet Knights in position for an American Athletic Conference bowl.

“We play a lot of good teams. We’re hoping to get into a good solid bowl,” he said. “Those are a good time.”

Even better would be playing in the NFL or another professional league.

“Hopefully I can keep this going and realize my dream,” Marsh said.

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com or 521-5470.

Comments are closed.