By John Boyle
Here’s what UCLA defensive end Cassius Marsh, the first of Seattle’s three fourth-round picks, had to say on a conference call:
(On how excited he was to hear his name called….) I just woke up, I was over here with my dog watching a movie and the Seahawks called me. I wasn’t even watching [the draft]. I just hopped up out of my chair, I can’t even tell you how excited I am to get coached by Coach Carroll and be part of the world champs.
(On what movie he was watching…) “The Last Samurai.” It’s a classic.
(On whether he tries to play football like the Last Samurai…) I try to play with a lot of passion. I love the game of football. I think you have to be a whole other animal on the field, and I try to embrace that.
(On how he can add value, moving inside and outside…) I think the versatility is a great thing for me. I’m just looking to go in and compete. I know that the Seahawks are huge on competition. I followed Coach Carroll all the way through USC and to where you guys are at now, and I know competition is the biggest thing, and that’s what I love. I thrive with competition, so I’m just going to go up there and do that.
(On whether he was recruited by Coach Carroll and USC…) Yes, I had a little silent commit. I went on a little trip to USC, and I committed to them on the (down) low. But, Coach Carroll ended up leaving, and there were rumors that he was leaving, and I ended up switching up and going to UCLA.
(On what he liked about Coach Mora…) Coach Mora is a great coach, and he brought great coaches with him. He brought an NFL pedigree, and guys who were going to teach me to be a professional, and how to do things at the next level. He changed the whole culture at UCLA. I love Coach Mora and everything he’s done for the program, and everything he’s done for me. He’s done nothing but great things for me.
(On whether he was 300 pounds as a freshman…) I was 300 pounds. Honestly, it was a really sloppy 300. I was uncomfortable, and I felt slow. I just change my diet and stuck with it. Where I’m at now is not necessarily me trying to lose weight at all. College funds, you can’t really eat too much, or else I’d be walking around here broke. Obviously, that’s not going to be an issue anymore.
(On how he can beat double-teams at 260…) I play with great leverage. My lower body is extremely strong and explosive. I have long arms. I am able to separate. I take great pride in having great technique. I have a natural strength. I’m able to play 3-technique, anywhere up and down the line, and able to do it with success.
(On the decision to lose weight…) At the end of my freshman year, I was playing 3-technique. I just hit that 300 , and I kind of wanted to get back down to 285. That’s what I did. It was a great 285. When Coach Mora got there, we moved to the 3-4, and he wanted to move me to D-End. I decided to lose 10-15 more pounds, and got to around 270. I played my Junior season, and I had some success. I was like 265 for my senior season, and we went to a Navy Seals camp. The whole team went to a Navy Seals camp, and I lost about 7-8 pounds, and I could just never get it back. I felt great at this 255 weight, I was able to make plays and play with a lot of speed. I look forward to getting in the weight room, and putting on some weight, and doing it all the right way, and getting in and making an impact for the coaches and the Seahawks organization.
(On playing with fire…) I play with a lot of fire, and I play with a lot of passion, and sometimes that can spill over. I made some mistakes as a young guy. It’s something that I’m very aware of, it’s something that when I go out on the field, I always keep in the back of my mind. I’ve been able to grow from my mistakes and learn. I’ll continue to work on doing so.
(On the kind of dog I have…) He’s a pit bull. He’s the cutest dog on the planet. His name is Boss.
(On catching 2 touchdown passes in college…) I would love to play tight end. I made it one of my goals to play both ways at the next level, but I’m going to do whatever the coaches want me to do. If that’s what they want out of me, if they feel like they can use me, then so be it. If not, then I’ll be making the impact on the defensive side of the ball.
(On how he started playing offense…) My dad was a wide receiver in the NFL some years back. I just have natural hands. Every day I like to warm up with the wide receivers. It’s a more active warm up. I just like catching the football. It’s a natural for me, and I love it. Every day I warm up with the receives and run routes and do all kinds of stuff. I catch kickoffs and punts at the beginning of practice. I’m just real active. My offensive coaches love me, my receiver coach, Eric Yarber, they love me, and try to fit me wherever they could, and try to give me some opportunities to make plays for the offense and I was able to do so a couple of times.
(On whether he thought Seattle was interested…) No, actually, Seattle didn’t work me out. I didn’t do a trip or anything. I just had a couple of phone calls and a meeting at the Combine. I knew Coach Carroll knew me really well, so I assumed that he didn’t need to learn much about me. I knew that they were interested, but I didn’t know if it would be them who picked me up. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of the world champs.
(On who he met with from the Seahawks at the Combine…) The whole staff. I believe Coach Carroll was there, pretty much everybody. You know how overwhelming that stuff can be. It was actually really hyped when we were in that meeting, because it was like a reunion. It was more like a celebration, or a reunion, than them sitting down and grilling me. I just remember talking a lot of football, and remembering the good old days, and telling some funny stories about recruiting and football, and stuff like that. It flew by. It was honestly my favorite sit-down with a team. It’s funny that I ended up with that team.
(On his first name…) My dad’s favorite athlete is Muhammad Ali / Cassius Clay. My mom liked it because in Greek it means “strength.” My dad, he was gung ho for it. It’s a very different name, and it’s a name that you have to live up to greatness, and so that’s what he gave to me.
(On what he needs to work on…) I need to work on strength. I need to build up my strength. I think that technique is something you can always develop further. I think I need to develop a couple of pass rush moves, a couple of counters. I need to learn more about what the offenses are doing. I need to learn the defense, and their little niches. I know there’s a lot of great veterans on the defensive line that can teach me some great things. I’m just looking to learn. I’m just looking to learn, man.
And here’s what area scout Tyler Ramsey, who scouted Marsh, had to say about the DE:
(On what stood out about Cassius Marsh….) Cassius was really versatile for them. He came in closer to 300 pounds, played a little 3-technique for them, and as he progressed, he’s been a 3½ year starter there, he moved outside and played some 5-technique, stood up, came off the edge, so really his versatility as a rusher is what stood out about him. He plays with his hair on fire, he’s all over the field. Really good with his hands. Playing a multitude of spots, kind of like Mike Bennett. Kind of in that same mold, 6’4’’ guy that can play all over the place.
(On whether you see him moving around…) We can move him around, stunt-package stuff, move him inside. The versatility stood out, definitely.
(On whether Bennett’s play last year make someone like Marsh more attractive…) You always appreciate guys like that. Playing the 3-technique and seeing a guy that uses his hands that well, and has the interior rush, those guys are hard to find. That was definitely a bonus. You always want guys that can do more than one thing.
(On whether he can slide inside at his current weight…) He’s been as big as 300, or in the 270s would probably be better. He can do anything, and it’s pretty cool that he can shape his body however he wants. Definitely he has the strength in his hands, and I see no problems there.
(On whether the specs on the defensive line changing…) Not necessarily. Pete always talks about the unique traits, and with Cassius it was the effort and the hand use and the versatility. You still like guys like Red and big dudes that can hold the point. Cassius is just kind of rare in his full set of skills.
(On playing with his hair on fire…) He’s a really passionate kid, and sometimes he pushes the limit, but he’s aware of it. He’s got it under control, and I think this is a great spot for him. It’s not something that’s going to be a problem.
(On whether that’s kind of a good trait…) Definitely. You love a guy that loves the game so much that’s he ready to push himself to the limit, but he’s got to be aware that there’s a point, and he’s definitely on top of that.
(On whether they like his receiving skills…) laughs. It was cool, at the Pro Day, this guy was in shape, he was running from outside linebacker drills, to D-End drills, to running routes at tight end. He was all over the place. I think he caught two touchdowns during the season. In a pinch, why not?
(On playing opposite Anthony Barr, was he under the radar…) Not really. He’s a really good player, and you saw him show up on tape, just like Anthony. He’s a really competitive kid, so having Anthony opposite him, he kind of has a chip on his shoulder, and he wanted to prove he was a good player, too. You saw that in the way he played.
(On his strengths as a rusher…) He’s a good athlete. He’s got quickness, he’s got strength in his hands. He just has a good feel. He knows, from his time playing inside and outside, how to get on an edge, and how to get around a corner, and how to finish on the quarterback. He definitely has a little knack for it.
(On where he needs to improve…) He’s got a pretty cool skillset right now. You like guys that play that hard, and he’s pretty technically sound with how he approaches blocks and tries to get to the quarterback. He’s going to get better, but he has a pretty cool foundation right now.