Trice Fights the Streets to Make It Big

Marcus Trice (Sooners Illustrated)

The recruiting story of Marcus Trice, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound cornerback from Mesquite High in Texas ends with a commitment to the Oklahoma Sooners, but the journey was one filled with potential disasters to the outcome.

Originally from St. Louis, Trice grew up on the "North side" in a neighborhood that could be described as one of the roughest in the country.

It was not uncommon for him to not only hear about, but also bear witness to some pretty heinous actions.

"I grew up where people got killed and stuff like that," Trice said as he tried to explain the realism of his neighborhood. "I grew up in a rough part of St. Louis. You could get beat up or jumped and people would get shot all of the time. It was just normal. You hate to say it like that, but I grew up where it was normal."

"My mother (Charissie Evans) tried to keep me away from that stuff, but I was always one of those kids that was outside. The older guys in the neighborhood were trying to help, but they were not trying to show me the good stuff, they were trying to show me the ropes of the streets. I grew up around the drugs and all of that, but I chose to not get influenced by it."

In the eighth grade Trice moved to Mesquite, Texas where he got a fresh start at Agnew Middle School. It did not take long for Mesquite's high school football coach at the time, Steve Halpin, to notice his physical abilities, but his future on the gridiron was not as certain as his talent.

"He moved here with his mom and baby brother from St. Louis," Coach Halpin reminisced. "I noticed how special he was going to be early on, but I knew that it was going to be a struggle. He was honestly a high maintenance kid."

Trice echoed Coach Halpin's comments about his early days in the "Lone Star State".

"Coach Halpin has really stayed with me, because I was really messing up when I first moved to Mesquite," Trice admitted. "I had a real bad attitude, but he stuck with me and talked to me. He disciplined me. I was punished a lot, but he was there for me through thick and thin."

After two years in Mesquite his mother made the decision that she was heading back to Missouri so that she could be close to her ailing mother.

"My mother was moving back to St. Louis to be with my grandmother who was passing away," Trice relayed. "She wanted to be with her in her last days."

Trice had to face the bitter reality that he may have to move back to the neighborhood, but a special set of circumstances surfaced when Edward and Tina Taylor, whose sons (Darnell and Darius) played alongside Trice for the Skeeters, decided to sit down and talk to Marcus and his mother about adopting him.

That way he could stay in a more positive environment and continue his prep career at Mesquite, but the choice was not easy for anyone involved.

"I talked to all three kids before bringing him over and I asked them if they would take less to bring Marcus in, and all three of them, even my young daughter, were willing to take less to have him," Edward Taylor, Trice's adoptive father explained.

"I think that really helped Marcus a lot character wise right off of the bat, once he saw that people were willing to sacrifice for him."

"Growing up my momma always taught me to take care of myself first, because if you are not taking care of yourself then how are you going to take care of other people one day," Trice said of the decision making process that led him to stay in Mesquite with the Taylor's. "She always taught me to be a man and make the tough decisions that will benefit you and your family. Me making that decision really benefited me and my family."

"I felt that if I would have went back to St. Louis I would have been back in that environment. Successful people just do not come out of those environments. You have to come through hell and high water to be able to come out of there and be a special person. I felt like it would have been easier for me to stay away from the bad stuff and keep a positive mindset and surround myself with the people that have been behind me."

"I feel like it was the right decision, because I have a full ride to play college football, and that has always been my dream," Trice continued. "I am blessed. I get my education paid for free. I probably would not have been playing football or sports for the school I went to in St. Louis. I would have been busy trying to survive."

"I was growing up to fast there, and I feel like by staying here I was able to be a kid and live a kids life. It was overwhelming for me to make the decision to stay, but I have never regretted it. It was the best decision for me and my family, because now I will be able to support my family as a man, and a well educated man at that."

Trice still had a lot of growing up to do off of the field before he actually put himself in a situation to become a highly recruited football star.

Mr. and Mrs. Taylor made sure that they laid down a certain set of standards that they expected Trice to live his life by in their household.

"I have rules at the house," Taylor stated. "He grew up with out a father and I told him you might find it to be a little different with a man in the house. He was going to have to understand that there were going to be rules and regulations, and he agreed to bide by it, but I knew it was not going to go over quite as easy as he expected."

"There was a lot of talking that we had to do with him to get him to understand how to respect adults, because where he came up there was not a whole lot of discipline, because his mother had to work all of the time. He was pretty much bringing himself up."

"We told him we wanted him to be a teenager and he could be a teenager with us like all of the other guys. We thought that he would enjoy life a lot better like that."

Trice echoed the comments made by Taylor. He said that there was definitely a learning curve within his new household.

"Mrs. Taylor had to discipline me a lot and I spent a lot of lonely weekends in my room, but they have always been there for me" Trice said.

"Coach Taylor has been that father figure for me that I needed all of these years without my father being around. He has taught me how to be a man and how a man should support his family."

Trice says at times, when things got rough, he wanted to run back to St. Louis to be with his mom, but her decision to let him stay in Texas was one that was final, and he could not be more thankful for her support and mentorship, no matter how tough it was for the both of them.

"There were times when I messed up here and I wanted to come home, but my mother told me that I had made my decision and I needed to be a man and stick with it. She was not going to let me come back. She wanted me to stay here and make something of myself. She made me tough it out."

Coach Halpin and the Taylor's were not the only people that have helped Trice out. He also gives a lot of credit to Barbara and Bob Wood for helping him develop a relationship with Christ.

"The Wood's have been there for me spiritually," Trice pointed out. "They have brought me closer to god, and they not only held me responsible for my actions as a man, but as a Christian man."

"It has really been a blessing to have three families that have really supported me and taken me under their wings. They have never shied away from anything. All of the challenges I have been through they have been right there and they did not have to. Financially it has been a strain and probably emotionally too, but they have just stuck with me. I just can't help but appreciate it and respect it."

In the spring of 2008 Trice was talked up as one of the top athletes in the area, but heading in to the UnderArmour/Scout.com Combine in Dallas on April 19th he had not received a solitary scholarship offer.

Halfway through the one-on-one drills at the camp it was easily discernable, to most of the scouts on hand, that Trice was most likely the best talent in attendance regardless of position.

He was able to shut down the best wide receivers when he lined up at corner, and it was impossible for defenders to shut him down when he lined up at receiver on the offensive side of the ball.

"My mindset has always been that I got something to prove," Trice informed. "For me to just come to those camps and perform well was big. I just I felt like I proved what I needed to prove."

Three weeks after the camp Trice received some great news when he found out that he had received his first offer from Tulsa, but it would certainly not be his last.

Schools like UTEP, Wisconsin, Baylor, Iowa, Vanderbilt, Iowa State, SMU, Kansas, Arizona, and Minnesota all offered him scholarships, but he kept in constant contact with Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who kept telling him to be patient and his offer would come.

On July 16th he found out that OU was stepping up to the plate with an official offer, and he was all ready to make an immediate commitment.

"Oklahoma was one of his top schools to start off with," Mr. Taylor said of Trice's affinity towards OU. "It was basically Oklahoma or Kansas. We did not know if the Sooners were going to come around (with an offer), but we had already gave our blessing, and we said if this goes down then you need to jump on it. OU was special to him and it is now special to us."

Trice took a day to ponder the offer and then called the staff to inform them that he wanted to wear a Crimson and Cream uniform in college.

"I actually committed the day after I got the offer," Trice admitted. "I am just real happy about how everything went down and I will get the chance to play for one of - if not the best - football team in the nation."

Trice has certainly been through a lot to get where he is today. Just a small bump in the road could have kept him from realizing his dream to play at Oklahoma.

"I am so proud of him for what he has overcome," Taylor beamed. "At first a lot of people did not have good things to say about him here, because he was so aggressive, but he was aggressive because it was the only way that he knew. He is still aggressive on the field, but he is now a mature and respectful person off of it.

"I knew he was going to be special the first time I saw him in the eighth grade, and I think that he is (special)," Coach Halpin added. "I think that he has a special future. He has overcome the odds and I think that he will be a special player at Oklahoma."

Note: This story originally appeared in the October, 2008 issue of Sooners Illustrated the Magazine. Click Here to get all of the information on how you can receive a full year of the magazine and a an annual subscription to all of the Inside Access at Soonersllustrated.com for only 99.99.

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