You know some of Marcel Joly's story. He moved to the United States from Haiti when he was 10. His mom, Jeanne Emmie Basille, remained in their native Haiti and was unable to complete the paperwork necessary to move to the United States like Joly had with his father.
They reunited about a year ago. Joly's mom finally had a chance to see him play football. It was all soccer when they lived in Haiti.
Joly said he's explained the sport to her, but she still didn;t quite grasp it.
While they were apart, Joly became a starting cornerback and running back at Forestville. He signed with the Hawkeyes last week, so football is now a very big deal.
“She’ll be like, ‘Don’t get hurt,’” Joly said. “That’s her main thing.”
Another benefit of his mom being with him is, of course, food from home. His favorite Haitian dish is fried plantains with pork and a side of his mom's “special recipe,” a complicated spicy add-on he said he couldn’t describe in English.
“It tastes so good,” Joly said.
Joly did a little bit of everything at Forestville Military Academy. He played running back and defensive back and was used on kickoff and punt returns. He rushed 39 times for 493 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior, with 13 solo tackles on defense. As a junior, he rushed 127 times for 833 yards and seven touchdowns.
Joly returned four kicks for TDs as a senior. That's one part of his soccer playing days that might make it to Kinnick Stadium.
The soccer background has translated to quick footwork in football.
“Iowa definitely wants me to return kicks,” Joly said. “I really enjoy it. [Chicago Bears return specialist] Devin Hester is one of my favorite players. I watch him a lot. Watching him play, he’s exciting. I want to try to do that.”
Basics: Forestville (Md.) Military Academy, 5-11, 180, cornerback
Dent the depth chart in ’14? — Maybe. It depends on what Iowa needs and how Joly takes to the game. No one saw Desmond King coming, at least as a starter. Joly has return specialist on his resume, but those are pretty much locked up with WR Kevonte Martin-Manley returning punts and, probably, running back Jordan Canzeri on kick return. Corner and safety depth isn't out of the question. IF Joly reports at 180, Iowa has played with smaller corners.
Off-the-top-of-my-head Hawkeye comparison — Damian Sims (OK, this might need some explanation. Watch Joly's YouTube and check out his change of direction, specifically his hips. Sims ran more in a turn than he did straight ahead. This is a huge plus if Joly ends up in return. As a defensive back, at least in these highlights, Joly is a stalker who strikes and sticks when he makes his move.)
ESPN.com scouting snippet — Joly possesses good size for any position. He is big enough at this stage to be projected to gain some bulk and end up at either RB, Slot or CB. He has decent strength as he breaks tackles when he runs and can hold off blockers as a CB. Speed is decent too. He isn't challenged much as a corner but as a RB he shows a burst, quick feet, good balance and can run away from some. . . . Joly is a talented athlete. Most likely he ends up as a CB, but most of his contributions have been as either a RB or returner. With a bit more bulk coupled with his current height, he has ideal size for a corner.
What Iowa said . . .
Head coach Kirk Ferentz on the cornerback gold rush — “But this year we signed more DBs than we would have anticipated or set out to do. And recruiting is a fluid thing, so if you have good players that are still interested in you and you like them, sometimes you'll bend and expand what you thought were your needs and over sign in an area and make up for that later on. But all the DBs that we signed, we're really excited about, and obviously we're excited about Desmond [King] and some of the other young players in our program.”
By the way, according to Rivals.com, Iowa was originally only going to take two corners in the '14 class. Josh Jackson and Joly were the first two. Jalen Embry and Omar Truitt were too good to pass up.
Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: “Good athlete. He'll come up and hit you. He has decent length to his body. We're excited about the guys we got on defense."
Maybe return game for Joly?: "I think you look at him, Omar [Truitt], Josh Jackson, we have some guys who redshirted in this past class who I think you'll see be outstanding in the return game. I think we've helped ourselves on special teams in the last two years with the athletes we've brought in."
What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .
Joly might be making the biggest jump out of all the Iowa recruits. Check the Forestville Military Academy football home page here. Now, that's hardly the indicator for success, but it'll be a leap. That said, Joly's YouTubes show an athlete who strikes on defense and who can make people miss on offense and in the return game. Soccer skills might have a hand in molding Joly as a corner. He already knows how to transition. Soccer also translates with feet, hips and change of direction.[HTML2]