Healthy, happy and holding a fishing pole. There’s Steve Marck in a nutshell.
The redshirt junior tight end had a breakout performance in the Miami University football team’s 30-14 victory over Southern Illinois last Saturday at Yager Stadium, punctuating his comeback from knee surgery.
Marck didn’t play at all in 2011, so yes, nearly doubling his career receiving yardage in one game was very sweet.
“It’s been a long road to recovery,” Marck said. “In the last couple weeks, I can finally say I feel back to 100 percent. This feels real nice getting back out on the field and contributing to the team.”
The 6-foot-3, 237-pound Marck caught four passes for 73 yards against SIU, having entered the contest with nine career receptions for 84 yards.
Marck and fellow tight ends Dustin White and Orlando David combined for seven catches and 98 yards from the arm of Zac Dysert. The RedHawks haven’t had a tight-end day like that since Matt Brandt grabbed eight Ben Roethlisberger throws for 68 yards against Toledo in 2002.
“That’s just the way it shook out,” said John Klacik, MU’s offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. “I think that’s the beauty of our offense. If teams try to take one phase away, there’s a spot for the other group. It just so happened Saturday that it was the tight-end position that benefited from all the work of the other positions.
“Those tight ends performed well, and we’ve asked them to step up. They’re talented and had a good summer camp, so it’s not surprising. The good thing is they all complement each other.”
White, a 6-2, 253-pound junior, and Marck are alternating. White started against Ohio State — he actually won a coin flip for that distinction — and Marck started against SIU. The 6-3, 237-pound David, a highly regarded freshman, rotates in as well.
“White and Marck, those guys are just alternating who starts because they play the same amount,” Klacik said. “I don’t say one guy does one thing better than the other. Those guys are really the starting tight end.”
Marck said it’s a good system because it keeps the duo fresh. The addition of David is simply a bonus.
“He’s a monster,” Marck said. “The first day he got here in camp, he was real raw. From there until today, he’s a completely different player. We have confidence putting him on the field.”
Marck had already earned two varsity letters by the spring of 2011. That’s when the Newtown, Pa., native caught a practice pass from Austin Boucher, turned upfield and blew out his left knee.
“It was not cool,” said Marck, who underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL and became a spectator for the 2011 season.
Marck was feeling good this summer and went for a jog back home in Pennsylvania in early July. He took “a bad step” and tore the meniscus in his left knee. More surgery.
“I lost some sleep over it for sure,” Marck said of the possibility of missing another season. “But I had a really quick rehab, worked really hard, and I was good to go the first day of camp.
“It was a little rough at the beginning, but honestly, I don’t feel it when I play anymore. Sometimes it’ll get sore, but it doesn’t affect my play.”
As good as he was feeling, Marck admitted he was surprised by his production against SIU. The Salukis were giving Nick Harwell plenty of attention, and that created more opportunities for all the other receivers.
For Marck, it started with a 35-yard pass from a scrambling Dysert in the first quarter.
“He made the whole play,” Marck said. “I had a clear route, so I was just trying to get the safety to look away from (Andy) Cruse or Harwell, and I ended up breaking open downfield. The play broke down, and Dysert put a stiff-arm on a D-end and threw it up to me. I have to give the credit to him for scrambling out about 20 yards and chucking it across his body right on the money.
“You don’t think about how many catches you have or your stats during the game. You just kind of go with the flow, and luckily the flow was getting the tight end involved a lot. So it was a good day.”
Tight end is generally a blocking position, and that’s OK with Marck. Blocking, catching passes, whatever. He watched too many losses last year. He wants to win.
And when he’s away from the field, you’ll likely find him at a fishing hole. Marck calls bass fishing “my passion.” He is an interdisciplinary business management major, but his dream job? That’s right, a professional bass fisherman.
“I live in a lake house back home in the Poconos, and I bass fish every morning and every night for about three hours,” Marck said. “It’s relaxing, and I just love that I can catch a big fish. You never know what’s going to be on the end of the line. You get out there and get a bite, and you don’t know how big it’s going to be.”
He doesn’t catch much grief from his teammates about his love of fishing. Indeed, he’s often got company.
“They’ve been to my house, and we go around here,” Marck said. “I’ll be like their guide and hook ‘em up with a line and show ‘em where to throw it. They love it.”
He’s not the goof-around type when it comes to fishing. “Honestly,” Marck said, “I’m strictly business.”
That kind of mind-set is evident when he’s on the field. The RedHawks are heading to Boise State on Saturday. Marck dressed but didn’t play when Miami got pummeled there in 2009. He wants this weekend to be different.
“I’ll do whatever I can for the team,” Marck said. “Whatever helps us go toward the victory.”