Marshall Faulk was being recruited as both a running back and defensive back in 1991.
Had it not been for a hard-headed Nebraska assistant coach, Marshall Faulk may have tore up Big Eight defenses instead of WAC defenses in the early 1990’s.
Faulk was a can’t-miss prospect in the 1991 class from Carver High School in New Orleans. The two-way player was wanted by every college football program in the country, most of whom were recruiting him at defensive back. Faulk wanted to play running back, which Jack Pierce knew.
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Pierce was Nebraska’s off-campus recruiting coordinator from 1985-92 who lured some the biggest names in Huskers’ program history to Lincoln, including All-Americans Steve Taylor, Neil Smith and Will Shields. Six years ago, Pierce told an amazing — or depressing if you’re a Huskers’ fan — about how he tried to get Faulk to Nebraska.
The coach who lost Marshall for us shall remain nameless. I brought Marshall to Lincoln for a visit. San Diego State’s recruiting him as a running back. LSU’s recruiting him as a defensive back. Florida’s recruiting him as a defensive back. He was something special on both sides of the ball. But he didn’t want to be a defensive back. So, I tell all our coaches, ‘Please, while he’s here, don’t mention defensive back.’ So, Marshall comes to campus. We walk upstairs to the South Stadium offices. The first thing this coach who shall remain nameless says, ‘Boy, you’re going to look good doing a backpedal.’ I wanted to kill him. I absolutely wanted to kill him.
Faulk ultimately signed with San Diego State, where he racked up 5,562 total yards and 62 touchdowns in three All-American seasons. He was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the No. 2 pick in 1994 NFL Draft.
Pierce added that he’s not sure if that encounter was the deciding factor, saying, “I couldn’t find Marshall the two weeks before signing day, literally couldn’t find him. I think San Diego State hid him. No kidding. The kid vanished.”
Then-Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne has been asked about Faulk numerous since then and told Jeff Beals in 2010 that they didn’t do their homework.
“Although we had been thorough, and we had done our home work,” Osborne said, “we hadn’t asked him a key question: ‘Marshall, which side of the ball do you want to play on?’ That’s why it’s really important to do a lot of listening. I think we could have had Marshall Faulk if we had just recruited him as a running back.”
Jack Pierce did his homework. They just didn’t listen.