DURHAM — Marquise Grizzle’s switch from Division I Murray State to Division II Shaw has turned into a big positive for the former Currituck gridiron standout.
Grizzle, the 2011 Daily Advance Player of the Year after a 3,000-plus yard season and 54 touchdowns at Currituck, has shined with the Bears and is coming off of a standout 2013 season in which he rushed for 1,276 yards and a dozen touchdowns on the ground, and had another 270 yards and two touchdowns receiving.
As a sophomore, Grizzle led the CIAA in rushing and yards-per-game (127.6) and was fourth in rushing touchdowns in earning all-conference honors. His rushing totals placed him 18th in all of Division II and also garnered him HBCU Gameday All-American status.
Grizzle is a preseason all-conference pick this season and is poised to help lead Shaw to an improvement upon last season’s 6-4 record. The CIAA’s coaches have tabbed Shaw to finish fourth overall and third in the Southern Division. This season, as a junior, Grizzle is being touted as an All-CIAA pick and, not only that, his coach, Robert Massey, believes he’s the team’s best player — worthy enough of not exposing him to possible injury in the Bears’ spring game earlier this year — and one of the best running backs in all of Division II football.
But Grizzle, speaking at the CIAA football media day earlier this week, is as focused on another aspect of his game — at 5-foot-7 inches and 185 pounds wanting to take on oversized linemen.
“I really only want to work on getting more physical in the blocking so I can protect my quarterback,” Grizzle said.
During his freshman year, Grizzle had four 100-plus yard rushing games, including a 229-yard, two touchdown performance, finishing with nearly 800 yards on the ground and close to 300 receptions with a combined nine touchdowns.
He topped that in 2013, going for 100-plus yards in eight of his 10 games, with the other two falling short of that mark by a combined nine yards. He credits his success to his offensive line.
“I love my line,” Grizzle said. “Ever since high school, I just had to have that relationship with my linemen, so I can be able to trust them and they trust me. I want to be able to know my linemen are going to do their job and I’m going to do the job that I’m used to doing anyway.”
He likes getting the ball, and getting it often. In all but one game, Grizzle had 20 or more carries, including three games of 30 carries. He believes his running will open up the passing game, and hopes the brotherhood, as he calls it, can come together to help Shaw to a CIAA championship.
“I don’t mind getting the ball,” Grizzle said. “I love it. Give me the ball; I’m going to do something with it.”
Massey calls him an All-American, and with another season like his sophomore year, is poised to get there.
“We’re going to be running the ball,” Massey said. “We’ve got the best running back, in my opinion, not only in the conference, but in the country in terms of Division II football. And having said that, I’d be a fool not to use his ability to help us win games.”