Editor's note: On Tuesday, the caption with a photograph of Millbrook High School's Keith Marshall misstated his class. He is a senior.
Keith Marshall, the top high school running back in the state of North Carolina, announced today his commitment to play college football with the Georgia Bulldogs.
After a lot of prayer, thought and consideration, a nervous Marshall said, I have decided that I will be enrolling to the University of Georgia.
A senior at Raleigh Millbrook, Marshall revealed his decision at the high school at about 2:45 p.m. Before his announcement, Marshalls top schools were Clemson, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Marshall, 17, is considered by some recruiting sites as the top-ranked running back in the country. A rare combination of speed and power, he can run the 40-yard dash in 4.23 seconds. Marshall also added 10 pounds of upper body strength before his senior season.
At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Marshall is Millbrooks all-time leading rusher.
He rushed for 1,891 yards and 25 touchdowns this past season in which the Wildcats finished 6-6. Before this year, NCPreps.com named Marshall the Preseason Player of the Year. Last week, he was given the Gatorade North Carolina Football Player of the Year award. He is also expected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 5.
Marshall ran for 1,560 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in 2010. As a sophomore, he had 1,166 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Keith is just a phenomenal athlete, Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore said. He has that drive that you want as a coach. I think Georgia is a great place for him.
By Monday night, Marshall was torn between Georgia and Clemson.
Marshall said he was up to 3 a.m. Tuesday morning weighing his two options. He even spent part of the night talking to Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins.
I talked to them and they just said, Follow your heart, Marshall said. They werent trying to put any pressure on me to come there.
When Marshall fell asleep, he told his parents he was going to sign with Clemson. But at 8 a.m., when Marshall woke up, he changed his mind.
I just felt at peace and I didnt want to have any regrets, said Marshall, who chose not to attend school Tuesday. I felt like at Georgia I would never regret anything no matter what happened.
His father, Warren Marshall, who was a star running back at James Madison before playing a season with the Denver Broncos in 1987, said his son made the right choice.
I think he still needed to sleep on it, Warren Marshall said. He had the opportunity to pray about it. When he woke up he followed his heart.
Throughout his recruitment, Keith Marshall kept his decision private and never indicated which school he favored or how he would trim his list of more than 30 scholarship offers from major Division I schools down to one.
He was also quiet both in person and online. Marshall has given out few interviews in the last few weeks and even took a break from Twitter. The normally avid Twitter user decided to not send any updates after his in-house visit with Georgia coach Mark Richt on Sunday night.
What local fans did know early on was that the chances of Marshall staying in state were unlikely. Although all three schools in the Triangle offered a scholarship to Marshall, he only seriously considered North Carolina.
But after the firing of Butch Davis in August, Marshall turned his attention to other programs before making official visits to Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Notre Dame and South Carolina.