Three years ago, playing football in Tennessee wasn’t even on the radar for Marquise Shakir. The redshirt senior right tackle was, at that time, a sophomore at Santa Monica College, just a few miles from where he went to high school at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles.
When his two seasons were coming to a close as a Corsair, he started looking for where his next stop would be. That’s when Middle Tennessee got in touch with him.
“It really was sudden,” Shakir said. “Our old offensive line coach called me after a game and said he was interested. It was kind of different – I didn’t know who Middle Tennessee was at the time.”
Little did he know, three years later he would be preparing for his final season as a Blue Raider with a Conference USA Preseason Team nomination under his belt.
“For me, it’s been a long journey,” Shakir said. “But, even after being here for three years, this day has come fast.”
He said MT was the fourth school that contacted him while he was in junior college, and the coaches made an immediate impact.
“They were the only ones that pursued me as hard as they did,” Shakir said. “I’m just grateful that they did, and I’m happy to be here. It’s been a blessing.”
Once he finally made an official visit to Middle Tennessee all the way from the West Coast, he knew being a Blue Raider was going to ultimately be his choice.
“Coach [Rick Stockstill], he really made it worthwhile on my visit,” he said. “Once I visited I knew I was committing, regardless of whatever visit I took after.”
Stockstill said Shakir had everything they were looking for in a tackle physically – he was athletic, had good footwork and had good size. He also showed some mental characteristics that really hit home with Stockstill and the other MT coaches.
“He’s a good person, he works, competes, tries, he listens – he’s been a pleasure to coach,” Stockstill said. “He shows up every day to work. He doesn’t complain, and he’s always positive. If he gives up a sack or if someone gets close to Brent [Stockstill], it bothers him. It’s important to him.”
In his three years at MT – he redshirted for the 2014 season before earning a starting spot last year – Shakir has developed as one of the key leaders along the offensive front.
He may not be the loudest or most vocal player on the team, but rather he leads through his actions, by showing up every day ready to compete and being consistent.
“He’s a good guy because he’s not a vocal guy – he kind of leads by example,” MT offensive line coach Rick Mallory said. “It’s huge for us, because he understands the value of work and understands the only way you can get where you need to go is by working. What we do up front is a thankless job, but it’s the satisfaction of doing a good job and being a part of five guys out there fighting all the time.”
Shakir’s consistency every day in practice also translates to gameday. Last season, he led all MT offensive linemen in snaps played with 991 on his way to an honorable mention All-C-USA nod. He was also a key cog that allowed the offense to eclipse the 4,000-yard mark in passing for the first time in school history.
With two days of this season’s preseason camp in the books, Shakir said things have been a little different than in years past, especially with new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin at the reins, but they are making good strides in preparing for Week 1 on Sept. 3.
“It’s been a lot hotter, definitely,” Shakir said. “The offense is different, it’s a little bit faster than it usually was, so that will take some getting used to. But, we have a full month. We’ll get in football shape; we’ll be ready Week 1.”
He said there’s only one thing the offensive linemen will have to do to have a good preseason and make his last season as a Blue Raider a memorable one, and it’s something he’s been doing all three years at MT.
“We just have to work our butts off every snap, every day.”