Transfers Little, Marshall fitting in at JMU

JMU running back Marcus Marshall runs down the field during Saturday's spring game at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg. Marshall transferred from Georgia Tech, where he led the Yellow Jackets in rushing the last two years, in December. Courtesy photo/JMU Athletics Communications.

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University’s football squad is losing some talent from this past season’s Football Championship Subdivision National Championship team. However, two former Football Bowl Subdivision players will look to help fill that void.

Gus Little, a transfer from the University of Maryland, and Marcus Marshall, a transfer from Georgia Tech, will be looking to make an impact on the 2017 team.

Both had big games in JMU’s spring game on Saturday. Little, a redshirt sophomore linebacker, led the defense with six tackles and a fumble recovery. Marshall, a junior running back, led the offense with 84 yards on 12 carries and a 50-yard touchdown.

“It’s been a smooth transition,” Little said after Saturday’s spring game. “All the players have just welcomed me with open arms, and everybody just works together. The coaches do a great job teaching the playbook.”

Little said that he’s learning the playbook more and more each day, and feels like being here for the spring will help him be more prepared when the preseason starts in August.

Gus Little

Little will join a strong stable of linebackers, including returners Dimitri Holloway, Kyre Hawkins and Brandon Hereford. The Dukes will have to replace Warren County graduate and starting linebacker Gage Steele.

JMU head coach Mike Houston said he’s been impressed with Little.

“I think Gus has come along really well,” Houston said. “You didn’t know just how quickly he would be able to make an impact. Obviously he’s a talented player, but I think after seeing him through the spring and seeing him (Saturday) he’s a guy that’s going to play for us this fall. I think along with Dimitri Holloway and Brandon Hereford, Kyre Hawkins, you throw Gus in the mix and we have a pretty deep pool of talented linebackers there in that group.”

Marshall will also be adding to depth at the running back position.

JMU will be looking to replace starting tailback Khalid Abdullah, but Marshall along with Cardon Johnson, Trai Sharp and Taylor Woods should have a lot of depth at tailback.

Marcus Marshall

“I knew what kind of ability he had, so I’m probably more so pleased with what kind of person he is,” Houston said of Marshall. “He’s just a character kid. Someone that I think fits in our locker room very, very well.”

Marshall ran for 624 yards this past season at Georgia Tech, and led the Yellow Jackets in rushing the last two years.

He said the transition to JMU has been a smooth one.

“I’ve got really good teammates,” Marshall said. “They’ve made me feel like family just from day 1. So they’ve just kind of taken me in and helped me learn as best as I can.”

Marshall has plenty of family ties to JMU. His father, Warren, played at running back at JMU and is the school’s all-time leading rusher (4,168 yards). He said both his mother and uncle also went to JMU.

“It’s really cool,” Marshall said. “I actually got the opportunity to wear the same number (29), so that’s also cool. I know that he’s really loving it. It’s just kind of a family tradition for us, and it feels really good to come and follow in his footsteps.”

Marshall’s brother, Keith, was a standout running back at the University of Georgia, and currently plays in the NFL for the Washington Redskins.

Marshall and Little got to watch after the spring game as the rest of the team received their National Championship rings. Marshall said it was nice to watch and inspiring.

“It’s a huge motivation,” Marshall said. “I didn’t get a chance to get a ring in high school, and I’ve been wanting one ever since. So to see those things up close and personal, it’s definitely motivating.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com