BY Art Thiel 03:10PM 05/10/2014

Mora on Seahawks pick of DE: ‘Wild-horse rider’

UCLA’s Cassius Marsh, the Seahawks’ third-round draft choice, is a versatile D-lineman who has to live down his reputation and live up to his namesake.

UCLA defensive end Cassius Marsh is passionate about his play and his tats. /

Angry Doug Baldwin, meet Angry Cassius Marsh. Not because Marsh seems to feel perpetually disrespected — a third-round pick by the Super Bowl champions is good for a guy who showed up to college “a really sloppy 300 pounds,” he said — but because he’s just, well, hot to hit. Anything. Any time.

“I play with a lot of fire, and I play with a lot of passion,” said Marsh, a defensive end, Saturday on a teleconference call with Seattle reporters after his selection. “Sometimes that can spill over. I made some mistakes as a young guy.

“It’s something that I’m very aware of. It’s something that when I go out on the field, I always keep in the back of my mind.  I’ve been able to grow from my mistakes and learn.”

Or as Jim Mora, the UCLA coach and former coach-for-a-year with the Seahawks, put it in his usual original way, “Cassius is kind of a wild-horse rider at times, and that’s OK.”  (For you Mora fans, that’s his college-speak for “dirtbags.”)

Just what the Seahawks need — a penalty magnet.

In the minds of Seahawks scouts, however, that is fixable.

“He’s a really passionate kid, and sometimes he pushes the limit, but he’s aware of it,” Seahawks West Coast scout Tyler Ramsey said.  “He’s got it under control, and I think this is a great spot for him.  It’s not something that’s going to be a problem.”

What’s going to be an asset, the Seahawks think, is his versatility along the defensive line, where he can play either inside or outside; a junior Michael Bennett, the Seahawks’ key re-hire before he reached free agency.

“He can play multitude of spots, kind of like Bennett,” Ramsey said. “A 6-4 guy that can play all over the place.”

And if coach Pete Carroll develops a hair as wild as Mora, he can play him on offense at tight end. He caught 2 TD passes for Mora. At the scouting combine in February, he ran some of the tight end drills as well D-line stuff.

“I would love to play tight end,” Marsh said. “I made it one of my goals to play both ways at the next level. But I’m going to do whatever the coaches want me to do.  If that’s what they want out of me, if they feel like they can use me, then so be it.  If not, then I’ll be making the impact on the defensive side of the ball.”

But the storyline for Marsh is usually about his temper. As a freshman, he  slammed his helmet and shoulder pads to the ground and stormed out of practice. As a sophomore he was suspended for two games for his part in a melee during a game against Arizona.

Last season against Cal he was ejected after a Bears lineman took a swing at him and was Marsh swung back.

In a Los Angeles Times story, Marsh said,  “There is no excuse for my reaction. It’s one of those things that it is never really fixed. It’s a part of you and you always have to be conscientious.”

But unruliness has rarely bothered coach Pete Carroll, now or back in Marsh’s high school days. Marsh said he made a quiet commitment to play for Carroll at USC after a big prep career at Westlake Village Oaks Christian, the same Southern California school as former Washington quarterback Nick Montana.

“Yes, I had a little silent commit,” he said. “I went on a little trip to USC, and I committed to them on the (down) low.  But, Coach Carroll ended up leaving, and there were rumors that he was leaving, and I ended up switching up and going to UCLA.”

That was a win for then-coach Rick Neuheisel, the former Washington coach who subsequently lost the Bruins job and was succeeded by Mora, which greatly pleased Marsh.

“Coach Mora is a great coach, and he brought great coaches with him,” he said Saturday.  “He brought an NFL pedigree, and guys who were going to teach me to be a professional, and how to do things at the next level.  He changed the whole culture at UCLA.

“I love Coach Mora and everything he’s done for the program, and everything he’s done for me.”

Marsh comes from an athletic family. His dad, Curtis, a three-year NFL wide receiver, and an older brother, Curtis Jr., is a defensive back for the Cincinnati Bengals. Dad’s favorite athlete was — you guessed it — Cassius Clay.

“My mom liked it because in Greek it means ‘strength,’ Marsh siad. “My dad, he was gung ho for it.  It’s a very different name, a name that you have to live up to greatness. So that’s what he gave to me.”

So it comes as no surprise that among his many tattoos is one that quotes from The Greatest of All Time: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

All Marsh needs to do is learn to stop punching when he hears the bell.



  • PokeyPuffy

    weird continuation on the Mora-Seahawks connection. Everything on the west coast seems to recycle itself

    • art thiel

      Can’t help but be many connections when the coaches want to stay in regions where they are most familiar.

  • Jamo57

    I guess Breno’s production of late flags has been replaced.

    • art thiel

      Marsh won’t be on the field enough in 2014 to draw many pens.

  • 1coolguy

    Still don’t understand why we didn’t go heavy for O linemen, as Wilson was the #1 SACKED QB per pass attempt last year.
    What that tells me is the O line sucked and needs help to protect the most important player on the team.
    This is a real head scratcher for me, ESPECIALLY after losing TWO of 5 STARTERS to free agency!

    • art thiel

      They did take Britt. Most O-linemen can be coached up to be effective. Speed and size can’t be coached. Lots of long-term NFL linemen were low draft picks or FAs.

      • 1coolguy

        I sure hope you are right Art – Wilson as the QB is the MVP of the team and I would simply think they would have done an “all out” to improve the O line, which was so miserable last year, and here they have lost 2 of 5 starters. “In Pete and John We Trust” so I presume Cable has it covered.

    • jafabian

      Last years line came together in the playoffs. It’s obvious the Hawks were in a “best player available” mode.

      • 1coolguy

        Remember though, 2 of those 5 starters left in free agency.

        • jafabian

          Last years draft picks barely played at all. This is their time. Also probably why the Hawks let so many players leave in free agency. Between those picks and the players on the Developmental Squad Caroll and Schneider think it’s all under control. And their probably right.

  • eYeDEF

    I’d much rather have players like Marsh that are on edge than Ruskell drafted boy scouts that couldn’t play.

    Cable got his guy in Britt, hope he can do more with him than what was available at 32 or 64 because it seems like Bitonio or Moses could have been plugged in at that spot on day 1 and they were both available.

    • art thiel

      Cable explained there was much to like about Britt. His knowledge and understanding of the kid was impressive.

      • 1coolguy

        As Cable is asst HC AND OL coach, I presume he was ok with picking up only 1 OL. After losing 2 of 5 to FA I would have thought they would have gone all out for OL, esp with their miserable stat last year of Wilson’s being the MOST SACKED QB per pass attempt last year.
        It will be interesting to see how the reconstituted OL performs.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    This guy is going to have a blast playing with Bennett and Avril …. ferocious defenses keep the scores low most weeks so our offense can take over and put up the adequate points it takes to get the Ws. Marsh will want to match intensity with Cliff and Micheal and that will be fun to behold.
    Yes Cable got his man and don’t forget?Britt takes care of at least one lost FB player. Its not over til the NFL regular season begins.There was a lot of talent in this draft therefore theoretically there will be a lot of talent on the waiver wire come September. The offensive line jobs up for grab will play out in training camp and if Carroll/Cable sees something that needs to be addressed?They arent shy men about using any avenue to have the very best in place come week one.
    Defense has to have the same special qualities as last year to win a championship. Lets hope Marsh is enough. John/Pete seemed to be very excited so trust is with the guys that brought us the Lombardi. Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      Since the Seahawks coaches put big emphasis on development, they are less likely to use the waiver wire to bring in a newbie late to their teachings.

      I do think Marsh is a a good fit, even if it takes a year to rid him of his wild-child penalties.