By now, I think we’re all pretty aware that the SEC is the king of college football. Six straight championships will give a conference a reputation like that.
What is also safe to say is that the SEC is the king of the NFL Draft. Last year the conference had 38 players selected, and this year the first round of the draft will essentially be the All-SEC first-team come to life. You have heard of guys like Morris Claiborne, Dre Kirkpatrick, Trent Richardson and Melvin Ingram, right? How about Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw and Fletcher Cox? All those guys (plus a few others) will likely be first round NFL Draft picks.
However despite all those big names getting set to cash big checks, there will be at least one All-SEC player who won’t hear his name called come the first weekend in April. And interestingly, he won’t hear it called by his own choice.
Meet Chris Marve, a second-team All-SEC linebacker in 2011, who has decided to give up football for good, instead choosing to focus on…are you ready for this… law school. Who said the SEC was just a football factory?
Marve’s fascinating story was documented this weekend by the Tennessean, and in it, the clearly intelligent Marve had quite a few insightful things to say about his decision to give up his playbook for law books.
“I wasn’t passionate about the game anymore, about playing it, at least. And I am the type of man where I don’t do anything halfway. Playing football, I loved it. It developed my character and instilled in me dedication and how to work hard and lead.
“But football wasn’t who I was. It’s not who I am. It took me awhile to come to grips with that, but once I did, I knew I had to take the step I needed to take. I felt like this is the right thing to do.”
Now that my friends is one, mature 23-year-old.
Now it’s only fair we point out that unlike so many of his SEC peers, Marve’s path to the pros wasn’t littered with gold, groupies or even the guarantee of a contract. At barely six feet Marve is hardly the ideal size for an NFL linebacker, and in his last known projection by ESPN’s Scouts Inc. he was rated as just the 28th best inside linebacker in this year’s draft. If he were to be selected, it wouldn’t have until the later rounds.
Still, in an era of the 24-hour news cycle and the constant fear that one of your players is going to end on the police blotter, character is key, and Marve has plenty of that. He was a double major in Human & Organizational Development and Sociology according to Vanderbilt’s athletics website, and graduated from one of the nation’s top schools with both degrees in December. Add in his clear football talent (hey, nobody ends up on the All-SEC team by accident), it’s safe to say Marve would’ve found a spot on someone’s roster come the fall.
Instead though, Marve will spend the spring working at the Neal & Harwell law firm in Nashville, and in the fall attend law school. He has already been accepted at the University of Memphis and is waiting to hear back from Vanderbilt and a few others. Wherever he ends up, Marve will follow in the footsteps of his grandfather Robert Marve III, a lawyer in Louisiana.
And with that we close this chapter on Chris Marve, as he closes his career on football. Although if you ask him, it seems like he’s ready to take the next step. More from the Tennessean:
“For me to say I won’t miss the game, now that would be ridiculous for me to even say. I’ve played football since I was 10 years old,” said Marve, the oldest of seven children. “But am I happy with the decision I’ve made? Definitely. And I don’t think I’ll ever regret it.”
On behalf of the entire Crystal Ball Run staff, we wish Mr. Marve nothing but the best of luck.
For all his opinion, insight and analysis on college football and beyond, please follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.