Senior Bowl Helped Propel Marqueston Huff into Fourth-Round Pick of Titans

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans safety Marqueston Huff only received one scholarship offer to play college football -- the University of Wyoming.

Not that Wyoming wasn't an attractive landing spot for Huff – he created a strong relationship with then-Wyoming secondary coach Alex Grinch (now the defensive coordinator at Washington State) during the recruiting process – but the defensive back also did not have much else to choose from.

Huff hails from Texarkana, Texas – the state's easternmost city, half of which owns an Arkansas address. (Trivia Crack Bonus Fact: Founder of the Temptations Otis Williams is also from Texarkana).

His aunt Rhonda – whom Huff still refers to as mom – and Uncle Richard Carson raised him since he was in second grade. Despite being nearly 200 miles from Dallas, Huff grew up a die-hard Cowboys fan, and to no surprise, his favorite player was fellow defensive back Deion Sanders.

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Coincidentally, Huff became a Cowboy himself at Wyoming. Like Sanders, Huff played cornerback during his first three collegiate seasons, logging 122 total tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries – both of which he returned for touchdowns.

Leading up to his senior campaign, Wyoming's coaching staff asked Huff to make the move to safety, where the team lacked depth.

The transition dramatically increased Huff's tackle production. His 127 total tackles as a senior more than doubled the number from his first three years combined. Huff still managed two interceptions from his new position.

"I just wanted to do what was best for my team," Huff said. "When they asked me to play safety it was just a sacrifice I made for the team. It ended up being a really great experience."

Pro scouts agreed. The Titans already had Huff on their radar and marked as a player to watch in the 2014 Senior Bowl. Huff's versatility in the secondary made him an even more intriguing prospect.

Huff recalled relaxing on his mom's couch during the holiday break when he got the invitation via email. As with any football player, from the youth ranks all the way to the college game, Huff dreamt of an NFL career - dreams that now felt more tangible than ever.

"It was really a thrill," he said. "You grow up watching the Senior Bowl and see all the great players that play in the game. I never put too much thought into playing, but when I got the invitation it was an honor."

Despite being one of the few to play at a small school, Huff said he's not a nervous guy and went into Senior Bowl week with nothing but excitement.

"I just wanted to go in there and compete and show that I can play at the next level and play against some of the best talent in the world."

His three tackles in the game itself weren't as impressive as his head-turning performances during the week of practices. Huff went toe-to-toe with the country's top receiving talent, a caliber of athlete that he didn't get to see much during the season at Wyoming.

Huff's confidence -- and draft stock -- continued to climb.

"I think it helped me out a lot because teams got to see me go out and compete against some of the better guys around the nation," he said. "I knew after the Senior Bowl that I could do this and that I belonged. It was a good week for me."

Michael Roos, Dexter McCluster, DaQuan Jones, Andy Levitre, Brian Schwenke, Charlie Whitehurst, Antonio Andrews, Craig Stevens, Zaviar Gooden and Blidi Wreh-Wilson are other Titans who participated in the Senior Bowl. Roos, much like Huff, is another example of a small school player making a name after playing at Eastern Washington University.

"There are some hidden gems out there, not just in small schools, but big schools as well," Huff said. "The Senior Bowl puts everyone on an even playing field. It was a great opportunity for a small school guy like myself."

Following the Senior Bowl, Huff continued to show out at the combine. He ran a 4.46 40-yard dash, posted a vertical of 35.5 inches and benched pressed 225 pounds 15 times.

The Titans used their second fourth-round pick (122 overall) on Wyoming DB Marqueston Huff. (AP Photos)

Huff ultimately landed in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Titans at pick number 122. The call from Titans GM Ruston Webster came simultaneous to seeing his name come across the TV screen. Huff had become the first Wyoming Cowboy to be drafted since 2011, and just the second since 2007.

"It's a dream come true," Huff said. "As a child you dream of being in the NFL. It's such a long process as you get closer and closer until you realize this dream could be a reality. It was the greatest feeling."

Draft day brought another reason for celebration, with Huff learning that he and his pregnant wife, Sherell, were going to have a baby daughter.

Nearly a full year later, the Huff family has grown from two to three, and the safety's rookie season is in the rearview mirror. Huff appeared in 14 games with the Titans in 2014 and grabbed his first career interception – a pick-six against Eli Manning and the Giants in week 14.

He recently made a quick trip to see his family in Texas but plans to spend the majority of his first NFL offseason in Nashville. With no combine to train for or scouts to impress, Huff's offseason plan is as simple as you might expect.

"I just want to get better," he said seemingly relieved the draft process is behind him. "It's a lot nicer knowing what your situation is going to be and who you're going to work with. It's extremely nice to know my system and just get better."

In just over a week on Jan. 24, fans might get their first glimpses of future Titans rookies at the 2015 Senior Bowl.

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