Athletes, like siblings, have an incessant desire to compete and get the best of one another.
ASU senior running back Cameron Marshall and Oregon freshman running back Byron Marshall have been competing with each other in everything from pick up games to video games their entire lives, but have never played football against each other.
That will all change when Oregon visits Arizona State on Thursday and the Marshall brothers square off for the first time.
The running backs certainly want to outperform each other, but Thursday’s outcome is just one game in a lifetime of competitions.
“Every chance we get around each other, we are always wrestling or competing at something,” Cameron said. “(This game) just gives us something else to talk trash about.”
One thousand two hundred and thirty seven miles separate Autzen Stadium and Sun Devil Stadium, but the Marshalls are close and communicate several times a week. However, the conversation does not involve as much football as one may expect.
“I talk to him at least once or twice a week,” Byron said. “Our lives are surrounded by football so when we talk we mostly just say what’s up and talk about life.”
Although the two are a few years apart in school and play in different divisions of the Pac-12, it is hard to not draw comparisons.
Cameron and Byron play the same position in the same sport. They attended Valley Christian High School in San Jose, Calif., and are listed as just an inch apart, but when it comes to their personalities, there are glaring differences.
“Cam was all business,” Mike Machado, the brothers’ high school coach said. “Byron is more of a flamboyant personality. Cam is all about the work, he’s a black and white guy, not a real emotional guy. Byron wears his emotions on his sleeve.”
Each brother has his unique personality, just like each has his own unique running style.
“He’s a lot bigger than I am so he’s a lot more of a downhill runner,” Byron said of Cameron. “I’d rather make you miss than go through you. I guess I’m a little shiftier than he is.”
Cameron agrees with Byron’s assessment, but also acknowledges his brother’s ability to do more than simply run the ball.
“He’s real versatile,” Cameron said. “He’s able to do everything. He can run downhill, you see him in the slot and he catches real well.”
Cameron and Byron may have different attitudes and running styles, but their approach to football is similar.
Both take the game seriously and understand the importance of hard work, a trait they likely learned from their father, Greg, who was a strength and conditioning coach with the San Francisco 49ers and Santa Clara University.
Whether it was drilled into them as kids or developed over time, both know success on the field does not occur without sweat off of it, which is something Byron has thoroughly observed in his older brother.
“He’s a hard worker, I’ve known that since day one,” Byron said. “He tries to outwork everybody no matter what the competition is. Whether it’s a regular game, pick up game or video game, he is working hard.”
It is the work ethic of both brothers that has helped them through the first seven weeks of the season. While Byron and Cameron are at different stages of their careers, both have had impacts on their teams this season.
Cameron has amassed five touchdowns and 262 rushing yards while Byron has 258 yards and three touchdowns.
The brothers want each other to succeed, but at the end of the day, they each want to be just a little better than the other.
“No matter what we do, we are always trying to win,” Bryon said. “Sometimes he gets me and sometimes I get him. It just depends on the day.”
Cameron admits the two are always competing, but isn’t quite convinced that Byron occasionally wins.
“I always get him in everything,” Cameron said.
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