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Marriott getting a shot at NFL dream

April 30, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

When he put on the pads at Musselman High School as a sophomore in 1994, Denero Marriott was no more than your average football player with dreams like everyone else of some day reaching the professional ranks.

Combining hard work in his three years at Musselman and a college career at Marshall University, Marriott's dream came true Monday when he signed a rookie free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

"When he was a sophomore, I asked him what he wanted to do and he told me he wanted to play in the NFL," said Denny Price, his coach at Musselman. "He had come here (as a freshman) from Philadelphia (Hargrave Military Academy) and really had not played much football at that point."

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Marriott's father, Norman, went to see Price about his potential.

"He was a young kid, but you knew when he stepped on the field he had some ability," Price said. "He worked during the winters in the weight room very hard."

Marriott became a force in the Musselman backfield, leading the Applemen to the Class AA state title and a 10-4 record in 1995 and winning All-State honors.

Musselman moved to Class AAA in 1996 and, again, Marriott was an All-State performer as the Applemen made it to the playoffs before losing to Morgantown.

"He still had his best football ahead of him when he graduated from Musselman," Price said.

At Marshall, the former running back was faced with stern competition as he became a wide receiver. It wasn't until his junior season that injuries to other players gave him the opportunity to show his abilities.

"Denero just got better and better, and last year he came into his own," Price said. "(Quarterback Byron) Leftwich gave him a chance to catch the ball. Denero had a knack of finding the seam in his route."

Marriott (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) led Marshall with 86 receptions for 993 yards and eight touchdowns.

Marriott concluded his Marshall career ninth in receptions (143), 10th in receiving yards (1,805) and ninth in touchdown receptions (17).

He will report to the Eagles' three-day minicamp Thursday and begin targeting a roster spot against third-round draft pick Billy McMillen (Virginia) and four other receivers who signed Monday as free agents.

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