Georgia lands nation’s top RB recruit

Keith Marshall chose Georgia over Clemson on Tuesday, giving the Bulldogs the last two year's top RB recruits in the nation.

Keith Marshall chose Georgia over Clemson on Tuesday, giving the Bulldogs the last two year's top RB recruits in the nation.

ATLANTA — Keith Marshall, one of the nation’s top-rated high school running backs, said Tuesday he will sign with Georgia.

Marshall, a football and track star from Millbrook High in Raleigh, N.C., said at a news conference at his school he chose Georgia over Clemson. He said he didn’t know which school he would declare on Tuesday when his head hit the pillow Monday night, but the vision became clear when he awoke the next morning.

“That was from my heart,” Marshall told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “When I woke up (Tuesday) morning, that’s where I knew I needed to go.”

Rivals.com, Scout.com and The Sporting News rank Marshall as their No. 1 running back prospect, while he’s ranked No. 6 in the ESPNU 150. Marshall rushed for 4,552 yards and 52 touchdowns to become the school’s all-time leading rusher and scorer. He galloped for 1,848 yards and 24 TDs this season, then capped his year by being chosen as the Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina and an Under Armour All-American.

Marshall said Georgia’s bounce-back season, 10-game winning streak and trip to the SEC title game helped his decision.

“They had a real good season this year,” Marshall told ESPN. “They should be able to do the same next year.”

Marshall also said he waited to make his decision until he was sure coach Mark Richt would still be in Athens when he got there. And when the Bulldogs turned around an embarrassing 6-7 season from a year ago to 10-3 in 2011 — officially taking Richt off the hot seat — it all but sealed the deal, Marshall said.

“That was big because I definitely liked Georgia a lot. I wanted to make sure he would be the coach,” he told the website.

Clemson reportedly sent three coaches to have lunch with Marshall and make one last push for him Monday, but during a live announcement Tuesday, the N.C. prep star RB broke the Tigers’ hearts when he reached into a blue bag and pulled out a red and black Georgia Bulldogs hat.

“(Georgia was) the frontrunner but Clemson came on very strong,” Marshall told ESPN.

This is the second straight year Georgia has landed one of the nation’s top running backs. Isaiah Crowell, from Carver High in Columbus, led No. 18 Georgia in rushing this season and on Monday was named the Southeastern Conference’s Freshman of the Year by The Associated Press.

Marshall says he will enroll at the University of Georgia in January.