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Recruiting spotlight: West Hall's Marquise Stephens
West Hall rising senior running back Marquise Stephens is a Division I football prospect for the class of 2009. Stephens' goal for the upcoming season is to rush for 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. - photo by Times file photo

Marquise Stephens is going to have a difficult decision to make.

The rising West Hall senior tailback wants to stay close to home to play college football, but that may not exactly mesh with the interest he’s receiving from schools near to and far from his home in South Hall.

Stephens is receiving letters, at a rate of about half a dozen each day, from a long list of schools that includes Miami, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Indiana, Kent State, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Georgia Southern and Ball State, among others. Stephens said coaches from East Carolina, Auburn, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Middle Tennessee and Connecticut have all made trips to West Hall to see him.

With that list, it’s going to be hard not to cross state lines to play at the next level.

"It feels good getting recruited by so many schools," Stephens said. "I’ll probably wait until February (national signing day) to make my decision."

So far Stephens, who rushed for 1,123 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, has an offer from Ball State to play running back. Stephens’ only camp for the summer is this weekend at Presbyterian College.

The front runner for Stephens at this point is Indiana. The staple in West Hall’s running game stays in regular communication with Indiana’s running backs coach Bobby Johnson via the internet, and also knows incoming freshman Hoosiers wide receiver and Gainesville High graduate Tyler Adetona.

"Marquise has been real patient because he knows where he wants to go," his father Fred Stephens said. "What he mainly wants is a school with good academics.

"He’s thinking about a major in sports medicine, and then maybe go on to be a coach."

Marquise’s father isn’t quite so sure his son will necessarily wait until signing day to make his decision official.

"I think if a school he likes comes in, and he feels like he’s got a good chance to play, then we’ll sit down and talk about going ahead and committing," he said.

West Hall coach Mike Newton believes Stephens, who is 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, could make the move to cornerback in college. His 4.4-second speed in the 40 yard dash along with his upper body strength could prove to be an asset in covering the opposition’s best wide receiver.

"There’s going to be a school that gets a steal with Marquise," Newton said. "He’s one of the best athletes in all of Hall County."

Stephens’ plans for the summer include gearing up for a big senior year where he hopes to rush for at least 2,000 yards and at least 20 touchdowns. He wants to do his part to put West Hall back on the map for playoff contention in Region 7-AAA.

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