December 14, 2024 | The Historic Cramton Bowl

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December 14, 2024

9:00 pm ET/8:00 pm CT on ESPN

Montgomery, Alabama



Marshall Takes Home MVP Honors

Posted December 28, 2022
Camellia bowl mvp justin marshall

By Tim Gayle – The goal for Georgia Southern’s defense was to make the Buffalo offense one dimensional in Tuesday’s Camellia Bowl matchup at Cramton Bowl.

“We mixed up enough coverages to try and slow them down and I thought (defensive coordinator) Will (Harris) did a nice job,” Georgia Southern coach Clay Helton said. “We went into the game saying, hey, let’s stop the run, let’s make the quarterback beat us.”

The Eagles were able to force Buffalo’s offense into several uncomfortable third-down situations, but the Bulls responded time and again with receptions by their receivers, particularly Justin Marshall.

Camellia bowl mvp justin marshall

“What a special receiver,” Helton said. “You could tell — I don’t know how many times he was targeted, it had to be over 20, it felt like over 20 — he is a very, very strong-handed player. When it was time to make plays, 12 for 19 (on third down), I don’t know how many of the 12 (third-down conversions) he made, but it felt like most of them was him.”

Marshall made six of the third-down conversions, with eight of his 11 receptions going for first downs in the Bulls’ 23-21 win over Georgia Southern on Tuesday.

“I pride myself in being consistent and putting it all on the line for my teammates when it’s time to do so,” Marshall said. “Being an elite receiver, I’ve got to make a third-down catch, I have to put my team in position to score, to continue the drive.”

He saved his best for last, winning the Bart Starr Most Valuable Player Award after recording 11 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown, the best individual performance for a receiver who spent his first five years at Louisville before transferring in January to Buffalo.

Marshall started 22 games in his last two years at Louisville, but decided after the 2021 season he wanted a change of scenery.

“When I was in the transfer portal, I was looking for an opportunity to revamp myself,” Marshall said. “Just kind of rebrand myself as a player and show that I can play anywhere against anybody. I was living in a situation that wasn’t the best situation for me, but I learned a lot of different things on the journey. I get here in Buffalo, I didn’t know what to expect at first. It was very, very cold, most snow I’ve ever seen in my life by far. But through the process of the journey I met brothers … on our team that helped me through the process. They’ve been there for me, no matter what.”

And while he’s pulled in 53 receptions for 710 yards and eight touchdowns this season, there was nothing to indicate he would be the star of the 2022 bowl game. He had more than five receptions just four times this season and only went over the century mark in receiving once.

On Tuesday, six of his first seven catches went for first downs and his 32-yard catch from Cole Snyder in the corner of the end zone gave Buffalo its first touchdown of the game. His last catch, a third-and-seven grab along the sidelines, helped Buffalo maintain possession and run out the clock, once officials were able to use replay to confirm the catch.

“We looked at it (on the video board) one time,” Marshall said, “and I was, ‘that’s definitely a catch, we’re wasting time reviewing it, we’re just running off TV time now.’”

His 127 yards is the fifth highest total in bowl history and his 11 receptions trails only Ball State’s Jayshon Jackson, who had 12 last year. Not a bad performance for the former Newton High standout in Conyers, Ga., who had 17 friends and family members make the trek to Montgomery to watch him play.

“It was definitely a great way to end my college career,” he said. “It was a blessing to be close enough to home for everybody to travel here safety.”

Marshall joins Arkansas State receiver Omar Bayless (2019) as the only receivers to ever win the Bart Starr trophy in the nine-year history of the bowl. After he game, he was asked if Tuesday’s game was the best of his career.

“In my opinion, yeah,” he said. “The fact that we won and I was able to give some of my younger teammates the experience of a bowl game and what goes with it — the process of every day throughout the season, offseason, everything, to have these moments to hold the trophy over our head. There’s so much more that goes into that than just the moments that we see here.”

Mvp justin marshall6
Mvp justin marshall6
Camellia bowl mvp justin marshall
Camellia bowl mvp justin marshall