Marley surpasses competition on way to Lombardi award


Nico Marley makes a tackle in last season’s 47-13 loss to Duke on Sept. 20, 2014. Marley was placed on the Rotary Lombardi award watch list in 2015. 

Jordan Figueredo, Print Sports Editor Chandler Daddario

Living a life in the spotlight is nothing new for junior linebacker Nico Marley who grew up with the fame of his family name. Now he continues to make a name for himself as he joins the watch list for the Rotary Lombardi Award, an annual award for the top college football lineman who shows the discipline of Vince Lombardi.

Nico Marley committed to Tulane in 2012 and looked to continue his high school success in the college football scene. That has not been a problem for him so far. Due to his tenacity, physicality, raw skill and leadership, Nico has helped turn the Tulane defense into more of a threat than in past seasons.

With Nico only being a 5-foot-10, 208-pound linebacker he does not let the size of his opponents get in the way. In 2013 he was nearly 100 pounds lighter than the average player trying to block him. He never lets that deter him from success, much like Lombardi before him who was known as the smallest, but toughest, member of his college team at Fordham University.

At the end of last season Marley finished with 82 tackles, 36 assisted tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss. He was second on the team for most tackles and first for assisted tackles and tackles for loss.

“I think there are a lot of things I’ve done well as a player, but of course I could get better,” Marley said. “We want a conference championship. We want the big bowl games. So as far as that … No, I have not done what I wanted to accomplish. I want to bring this team to another level. I want people to recognize us [American Athletic Conference] as a power conference [and] eventually [a power] school.”

With each season Marley completed, his overall personal statistics from the previous year increased. All of his hard work has contributed to the 2015 Rotary Lombardi Award watch list nomination.

According to the Committee, the Rotary Lombardi Award is “limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage. The candidates earned a place on the preliminary Watch List by earning All-American honors, being named to their respective all-conference teams or receiving 2015 pre-season honors.”

Being placed on the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list is an admirable achievement, but Marley does not place much emphasis where most would. Instead, he just focuses on his game play.

Most would think being watched more carefully than before this season, Marley would feel a sort of pressure but contrary to belief he just continues to take the field and play the sport he loves.

“Pressure?” Marley said. “No, we don’t feel those things, we’ll go out and play the game like we know how to play and how I love to play, and we’re going to give you guys a show [this season].” 

The Tulane Green Wave competes against the Duke Blue Devils Thursday and Marley has definitely seen progress in the team.

“Honestly, we look nice out there,” Marley said. “Everything is flowing. You can tell every day that there is progression … We’re film watching, studying plays and just knowing our assignments.”

Marley has proven to be essential to the success of Tulane football. Since Marley joined the team the Tulane defense has moved up in the national rankings. In 2012, a year before Marley was a freshman, the defense had a national ranking of 114th.

An ambitious player like Marley is certainly something the NFL is looking for and with his history with the Green Wave, he may have a chance to make it to the next step. Marley is open to a possible professional career in the upcoming years. 

“You know, [the NFL] is everybody’s dream, that is definitely my dream,” Marley said. “However, I am ready for anything to happen. Of course I am going to stay and play at Tulane [my senior year]. Of course.”

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