Home > Uncategorized > Titans’ would-be Welker is on his way

Titans’ would-be Welker is on his way

With action-hero good looks, the humility of a Trappist monk and hands softer than the economy, Titans rookie wide receiver Marc Mariani is an easy guy to root for.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Wes+Welker&iid=9481211″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9481211/new-england-patriots/new-england-patriots.jpg?size=500&imageId=9481211″ width=”234″ height=”345″ /]

No one in Middle Tennessee had ever heard of him before the Titans drafted him in the seventh round in April. And frankly, why would they have heard of him? Mariani toiled for Montana, and he had to walk on there just to get noticed. Here in the South we like our football heroes to be ready-made. We already know them because we’ve seen their high school highlight reels on the recruiting sites and watched them play on Saturdays in the SEC or ACC or Big 12 or Pac-10.

When you’re an all-state football player in Montana and you still have to walk on at Montana you have redefined being off the radar. But here Mariani is at Baptist Sports Park, genuinely thrilled for the opportunity that has been presented to him and doggedly determined to make the most of it.

“I’ve been trying to work my butt off,” Mariani said after a recent practice. “There’s a room full of great players in the receiver room. I just try to work hard and get better every day.”

The kid seems poised. If he’s over his head it hasn’t shown to anyone.

“I might be a pretty good actor,” Mariani said. “This is a different environment then what I’m used to, but I’m just having a great time enjoying the opportunity and I wanna make it last as long as I can.”

If he keeps catching everything within the 615 area code like he has so far he definitely has a chance to stick on the roster. The comparisons to a certain New England Patriots wide receiver (pictured) are only natural. Like Wes Welker, Mariani plays in the slot and already has earned a camp reputation as an excellent route runner with deceptive speed and sure hands.

He and fellow rookie Alterraun Verner, a cornerback and the Titans’ fourth-round pick, have become fast friends in spite of or because of lining up against each other every day.

“It’s a friendly rivalry,” Verner said. “You see him do it to everybody. He’s making plays all over the field – one-on-one, seven-on-seven, team, in his sleep, everywhere. I brag about him all the time.

“I like the way he runs his routes. It’s making me better. You can’t guess with him because he’s so sharp and gets in and out of his breaks so well it keeps you honest. When you go against other people it’s almost easier because they don’t run the routes as precisely.”

Welker, anyone?

Mariani even is wearing No. 83, Welker’s number, though he said it’s just a coincidence. What’s not a coincidence is Mariani said he has studied Welker among other receivers on whom he has watched film.

“He’s so quick and his second-level releases … he’s deceivingly fast I would say and he just makes plays,” Mariani said. “He’s a good dude to watch and learn from.”

Ultimately Mariani is flattered by the too-soon comparison.

“If I can have the success he’s had I won’t get sick of it at all.”

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Jordan
    August 4, 2010 at 9:41 am

    OK, so Mariani may be the Titans’ Welker, but who’s our Brady? Vince isn’t exactly Mr. Accurate. If he can get the ball to Mariani then I believe things will happen, but Vince has to actually complete a pass first. Another thing, the go-to receivers will be Britt, Gage and Washington. None of whom are Pro-Bowlers, but all of whom are established receivers. I hope Mariani’s talent is as good as his work ethic, because he’s going to need it competing against those guys.

  2. T Lutey
    August 4, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    That’s a nice little story, but a couple things need to be cleared up. When you’re an all-state player in Montana, you feel damn lucky to even be considered by the University of Montana.

    This is a Saturday pregrame at the lowly university where Marc, as you put it, “toiled.” Of course I’m biased, but I wouldn’t trade it for a round of rocky top.

    And this is what Marc can do. Go to the 5:47 mark, note the score the time remaining and then sit back and watch the Mariani show.

  3. Marshall
    August 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    When Montana strolls into Knowville, TN next year (2011 home opener) and tongue-punches Tennessee in their collective fart boxes… you’ll be redefining which one is the “Lowly university”.

    • August 4, 2010 at 9:42 pm

      Marshall, just because I live in Tennessee doesn’t mean I have anything to do with the University of Tennessee. Nor is UT mentioned anywhere in this story. Nor is Montana referred to as a “lowly university.” I’m sure it’s lovely. I’m not sure what has your bearskin underwear in a bunch. Here’s what to take away from the story: Mariani is a likeable kid with a great work ethic who, as a seventh-round pick, has a serious chance to make the NFL, and I’m rooting for him.

  4. Thomas
    August 24, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Anybody that didn’t watch that video, really should. You dont see everything that Marc did in that game, but he willed the Griz back into that game. That game was beyond belief and Marc was the undeniable spark for the comeback.

    And I understand Marshall’s frustration. Many Montana fans are excited to see Marc have such a good shot at the NFL, because he was a fan favorite. But this is the second article i’ve stumbled across today alone that makes some (at least semi) disparaging comment regarding the University of Montana. This says he “toiled” at U of M. And the other article I saw referred to U of M as “less than glamorous.” These little jabs are frustrating as a Griz fan because the University of Montana has been a perennial contender in the old Division I-AA (FCS) (U of M was originally in the Pacific Coast Conference (essentially the Pac-10 now)).

    U of M has been in 7 of the last 15 National Championship games.
    They have won (or shared) something like 12 straight conference titles.

    We have produced a significant amount of NFL talent over the past few years, for an FCS school including:
    Dan Carpenter K (Miami Dolphins)
    Lex Hilliard RB (Miami Dolphins)
    Kroy Biermann DE (Atlanta Falcons)
    Cory Procter OG (Miami Dolphins)
    Tuff Harris DB (Pittsburgh Steelers)
    Steve Pfahler TE (Tennessee Titans)
    Marc Mariani WR (Tennessee Titans)
    Shann Schillinger S (Atlanta Falcons)
    Levi Horn OT (Chicago Bears)
    Colt Anderson S (Minnesota Vikings)

    I dont think that is too terrible a pro showing for a “less than glamorous” program that these guys “toiled” at.

    That is what gets people like Marshall fired up. We are very proud of our Griz up here in Montana and I urge EVERYONE to come and experience a game before making any judgments. Numerous players, coaches, and TV personalities have expressed that watching a game at Washington-Grizzly Stadium is the same (or better) atmosphere than any high level BCS program.

    Thanks for reading. And I urge you guys to give Mariani the ball. He is a winner. He is a hard worker. And he is talented.

    • Greg
      August 26, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      Agreed, Go Griz!

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