KERNERSVILLE — Another East Forsyth running back is headed to Wake Forest.
Rising senior Ahmani Marshall verbally committed to the Deacons on Saturday at East Forsyth’s media center in front of about 200 people, including family, friends, teammates and coaches.
“It feels good to finally get it out of the way, and I’m just ready to focus on my senior season,” said Marshall. “That’s just who I felt most comfortable with throughout the whole process. I had a lot of relationships with other schools, but Wake Forest was home.”
Coach Todd Willert played the first 30 seconds of a 90-second video and then paused so that Marshall could announce his commitment.
After doing so and while the rest of the video played — featuring highlights of Marshall and a voiceover by the 6-foot-1, 207-pound running back — Marshall donned a Wake Forest cap and shirt.
Marshall follows in the footsteps of Christian Beal-Smith, a rising redshirt sophomore at Wake Forest who was an all-state running back at East Forsyth. Beal-Smith was the first person that Marshall told of his commitment, which he knew would be the case about two weeks ago.
“He’s the first person I told. I talk to him all the time. I’m ready to go up there with him and put in some work,” Marshall said.
Marshall had narrowed his final list down to six schools; the others were Duke, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Kentucky.
He also held offers from Syracuse, Charlotte, East Carolina and Air Force.
For Marshall, “running back” is a key term.
Willert said some of the schools recruiting Marshall weren’t sure of his future position. Marshall ran for 1,134 yards and 20 touchdowns on 153 carries (7.4 yards per carry) for the Eagles last season, which concluded with an unbeaten record and the Class 4-A state championship.
“There were a few of the top schools that wanted him as a running back, there were a couple of other ones that weren’t quite sure if he’d be a running back, H-back — some of them even looked at linebacker, possibly,” Willert said. “I really think, obviously, that knowing (Wake Forest) wanted him as a running back … was a big factor.”
Marshall quickly confirmed that.
“I’ve been a running back all my life, and I don’t plan on stopping playing it,” said Marshall, his tone sharpening more in that moment than any other during a 4½-minute interview. “I don’t know where that came from, but I’m a running back and I’m going to Wake Forest.”
Marshall said he plans to graduate early and enroll at Wake Forest in January.
He’ll be joining a backfield that, as it projects now, would feature Beal-Smith as one of the top running backs.
But it also appears to be an unproven backfield, at least going into the 2019 season.
Of Wake Forest’s running backs, only rising senior Cade Carney and Beal-Smith have had more than 20 carries in their Deacons careers.
“I’m more of a balanced back. I feel like I can compete in all aspects of the game, running the football,” Marshall said. “I can cut, I’ve got balance, I’ve got speed, I’ve got size, which is a good attribute for me.”
Marshall said during his recruitment he talked most with Coach Dave Clawson and running backs coach John Hunter.
Willert and a few other East Forsyth players attended a camp at Wake Forest earlier Saturday.
“I’m glad Coach Clawson gets him, but like I told Dave today, I’ve got him one more year,” Willert said with a laugh. “… With how crazy Division I sports is, I’ve had over 20-some Division I kids, none of them have ever finished with the same head coach in their college career.
“That’s one thing I really try to tell parents is to really look for the stability of a program, and I think that’s why Wake, Duke and Virginia were really up there, because those programs, their head coaches have kinda vowed to stay there.”
Marshall is the 10th commit of Wake Forest’s 2020 recruiting class and the fifth from North Carolina. He’s the first from Forsyth County, though, as the others are from High Point, Greensboro, Burlington and Bailey.
“Growing up, I never thought I would be a Deacon. But, like, now, out of all my decisions, this is my best opportunity,” he said.