CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Defensive backs, beware. Don't let Marquez North's size fool you.
At a stout 6 feet 3½ and 210 pounds, it would be easy to peg the ESPN 150 receiver from Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek as a possession receiver -- until he runs right by a victimized cornerback.
The No. 130 overall prospect in the nation and the No. 16-ranked wide receiver has run an electronically timed 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds (in the 4.3 range with a handheld stopwatch), as well as the 200 meters in 21.8 seconds.
North isn't just big. He's fast.
That speed will factor into North's college decision, because he wants to play in an offense that fits his skills.
"I'm mostly built on speed, and Oregon is like the fastest team in the nation. That's why I like them," North said.
Oregon hasn't offered North a scholarship; however, as his name continues to spread across the nation, there is a good chance the Ducks will. Nevertheless, North already has nearly 20 scholarship offers from some of the top football programs in the nation like Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Clemson and South Carolina.
"The recruiting process is going great for me so far," North said. "I'm really thankful to be in the position I'm in."
Things have certainly changed drastically for North after transferring to Mallard Creek before his junior season. Head coach Mike Palmieri saw it coming, and he told anyone that would listen when media assembled for offensive tackle D.J. Humphries' announcement in August that he was committed to Florida. Palmieri repeatedly used the word "special" to describe North -- and he was right.
"Just his athletic ability and how coachable he is," Palmieri said when asked what he saw in North so early. "That was the big thing. You only have to tell him something once, and he gets it. He's not the kind of kid that you have to tell him something 10 times."
The belief from his coach had an impact on North.
"That just means since he has faith in me, I just have to have faith in him and go 110 percent every down and give my all for the team and the program," North said.
Plenty of players are coachable, but not all have North's ability. When asked what made North special, North Carolina cornerback commitment Brian Walker put it simply.
"Physicality and speed," North's teammate said.
The size will be a factor now and in the future. With any sort of growth spurt, North will be 6-4 and could get to 6-5. He won't face many, if any, cornerbacks that big.
"I feel like height is always a benefit, receiver-wise," he said. "I can go up and get it. I'm a big target for a quarterback. I feel like that's a blessing."
North said he wants the basics out of a college: being comfortable, solid academics and a good team. He hasn't visited many of the schools that have offered him yet, just the ones nearby such as North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, Georgia and Clemson. If there is any school that is worth keeping an early eye on, it's Clemson. North has visited the school three times.
"I like Clemson," North said. "I go up there to see what they want from me in their system. It's an explosive offense. It's built around speed and it has a lot of formations like we do here, so I like the offense."
North Carolina, under first-year head coach Larry Fedora, also seems to have a good foothold for North, who has been to Chapel Hill on numerous occasions.
"I like the offense better this year than last year," he said. "It's faster and more explosive."
North will visit schools farther away from his home this summer. He cited Florida as a definite stop. With the Gators' success recruiting in North Carolina, a positive visit could pave the way south, but don't expect a decision anytime soon.
"I don't really have a time frame," said North, who said he expects to announce his decision after his senior season.
Cornerbacks in the Charlotte area are more than ready for him to move on.