Cornerback Marty Markett got rave reviews from USC coach Steve Spurrier last week for his hustling play on special teams against Tennessee.
Spurrier noted that he’s ready to commit more playing time and scholarship dollars to the junior walk-on and former USC track star from York.
Markett missed most of last season after suffering a broken arm. While being redshirted, he worked every chance he could to help pay his way to school.
After returning to the team in the spring, he was on academic probation earlier this season after missing a few classes. "That's all worked out now," he says.
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After Spurrier's praise and a season-ending injury to Chris Culliver, Markett enters Saturday's game with his best chance yet to see the field on defense.
What was it like getting the first special teams game ball of the season?
It was fun. I made a couple big plays on special teams. I did what I had to do and Coach Spurrier awarded me a game ball.
Are you on scholarship yet?
[Coach Spurrier] said I'll be getting one in the spring. I'm very happy about that. It takes a lot of pressure and stress of my family receiving a scholarship. It makes me feel good to know that I can help contribute to the team, that I'm doing good and Coach is noticing that.
Does it feel good to be on Spurrier's mind?
Yeah it feels good. It feels good to be part of the team and contribute. I love playing in that stadium right there.
Talk about the chance to play defense.
I've always been waiting for this moment. It's really no different because every week I'm the backup for either behind C.C. [Whitlock] or Stephon [Gilmore]. Unfortunately Chris [Culliver] went down and somebody has to step up. I'm just continuing to work hard and if Coach calls me to get in on Saturday, I'll be ready.
Was practice different for you this week?
No, I work hard every day. I studied a lot more this week than I normally do. As far as being out here, I always go 100 percent.
Any problem getting guys focused for Arkansas?
No. One of our team goals was to win every game here at the stadium. We're still focused on that goal. Coach Spurrier told us, "Don't think about Florida. We play Arkansas this week.” We're trying to keep defending that home territory.
Where do you think this secondary is right now?
Coach [Ellis] Johnson always points out that it's always just one or two plays that we'll give up that will be like long, long yardage. But we have a pretty sound secondary. We just have to make plays and stop giving up big plays.
Talk about preparing for Arkansas and their passing offense.
[Ryan] Mallett, he's a good quarterback and they have good receivers. I believe we can cover them. We're good, too. I'm looking forward to the challenge.
What kind of cornerback are you?
I'm a cornerback. Coach [Lorenzo] Ward's a good coach. I believe in him. He's working with me with my techniques. I'll be ready for Saturday if I'm called to play.
What road did you take to become a member of this team?
Out of high school I came here for track on a track scholarship. I did good here in track. I was an All-American. I've always wanted to play football. I worked it out with coach [Curtis] Frye where my freshman year I had to run track only. In my sophomore year I wanted to start getting into football. They said in order to come out here and play football, I had to give my track scholarship back. I talked to my family and told them this is what I really wanted to do. They told me to go for it, so I quit the track team and walked on and made it here.
When you first got here, how difficult did you think it was going to try and get on the field?
I always believe if you have doubt in anything, you probably shouldn't be trying it. So I never doubted it. I've been taking advantage of every opportunity, starting on special teams. Now I might get a chance to play on defense. I'll be prepared for that.