By CHRIS McMANES — MarShawn Lloyd spends more than four hours a day commuting to and from DeMatha Catholic High School. He says it’s worth every minute.
“A lot of people that I’ve met here are going to be my brothers for life,” Lloyd said before a recent practice. “It’s definitely a great place. I’ve made connections with a lot of different people. We really do have a brotherhood at DeMatha.”
Lloyd is having a fantastic senior season for the fourth-ranked Stags (7-3). He will lead the Red & Blue into a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoff semifinal at No. 1 St. John’s (6-4) on Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be streamed live by 1st Amendment Sports.
The winner will meet No. 5 Good Counsel (8-3) in the championship game at Catholic University on Sunday Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. The Falcons advanced by downing No. 2 Gonzaga (8-3), 44-14.
Lloyd, who pledged to play for the University of South Carolina in May, is one of the top running backs in the nation. He has gained 1,199 yards this season on 119 carries for an eye-popping 10.1 yards per attempt.
“MarShawn has that it factor, whatever that it is,” DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor said. “I think all great athletes, great competitors have it. It’s hard to put exactly into words where it comes from, how they developed it, what it really is, but he has that.”
“His vision running the football is unbelievable,” said McGregor, who coached former Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook. “He just has a knack for finding the hole even if its clogged or not exactly where it’s supposed to be.
“He can turn nothing into something.”
On Oct. 19, in a 28-26 loss at Gonzaga, Lloyd scored on a 99-yard kickoff return. He had a 55-yard score in the Stags’ 33-0 victory over Avalon. He’s also caught five passes for 133 yards, including a 33-yard TD reception in California against nationally ranked St. John Bosco. He has 13 touchdowns this season.
Last week, playing McNamara at Catholic University, Lloyd followed a sealing-block from senior tight end Nigel Newby to score from 65 yards. It was the first play of the game. He exploded through the hole so quickly that he was literally untouched on his way to the end zone.
“That’s the explosion and the quickness that he has,” McGregor said. “It’s amazing. As a spectator, he’s fun to watch. Every time he touches the ball, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
McGregor is in his 30th season as DeMatha’s head man but first since 2011. One of his former players, Elijah Brooks, coached the Stags the past eight years. Brooks, now coaching running backs at Maryland, was Lloyd’s head coach until this season.
In DeMatha’s 27-21 victory over Gonzaga on Oct. 12, 2018, Lloyd rushed 25 times for 154 yards and scored four times. His night included a game-winning 25-yard run in triple overtime.
“As a staff, as a team, we knew he was due for a breakout performance,” Brooks said following the game. “And it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
From Delaware to Hyattsville
Lloyd lives in Middletown, Del., and spends two-plus hours in a car each way to attend DeMatha. A typical day means waking up at 4:45 a.m. and leaving the house by 5. Either his mom, NaShawn, drives him to Hyattsville or he goes to Sudlersville, Md., in Queen Anne’s County to catch a ride with sophomore teammate Cole Donaldson’s parents.
Lloyd usually arrives on campus a little after 7. He spends 7:15 to 8 in DeMatha’s Academic Support Center. School begins at 8:15 and runs to 2:55 p.m. He then has to dress for football practice, which ends at 6:30. He arrives back home around 9:10 and goes to sleep about 11.
Lloyd, who has a 3.6 GPA, tries to have all his schoolwork done before practice, using any free time to complete it. In college, he plans to major in engineering or architecture.
“Look at how he travels back and forth from Delaware,” McGregor said. “That tells you about his work ethic. He gets extra academic support every morning. He touches all the bases.”
Brooks, himself a former Stags running back, began recruiting Lloyd when Lloyd was playing on a youth football team in Wilmington, Del.
“We saw MarShawn in youth ball, and some of the things he did, we knew we had to do whatever we could to convince his mom to allow him to come to DeMatha for high school,” Brooks said. “They’re very close, and she wasn’t necessarily excited about it, but she wanted MarShawn to have the opportunity DeMatha provided.
“She didn’t want MarShawn going away for high school, but he wanted to come. I went to Delaware and sat with the family and told them that he could be the No. 1 running back in the country if they trusted us.”
McGregor said Lloyd has a “tremendous mother” who he thinks has “done a marvelous job raising MarShawn. And he’s done a marvelous job doing what he’s supposed to as a young man to get where he is in life.”
After playing in the SEC for South Carolina, Lloyd would like to play in the NFL. “Oh yes, definitely,” he said. “That’s a big goal of mine.”
Brooks tried to recruit Lloyd to join him at Maryland. But in choosing the Gamecocks, the 215-pounder also said no to the other finalists: Clemson, Penn State and Georgia.
“I think it’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time,” said Lloyd, who also competed on the Stags’ 2019 WCAC-winning outdoor track team.
Lloyd spent his first year at DeMatha (2016) living in Waldorf with fellow senior MelTeon Davis. He’s been commuting from the First State since his sophomore season.
Lloyd played behind some other talented running backs as a freshman and spent a lot of time returning kicks. Chase Young, one of his defensive teammates, attends Ohio State and could be the top overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft. The Stags won the 2016 WCAC championship to complete a 12-0 season.
In the 2017 season opener at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Lloyd broke two bones in his left arm and was sidelined for eight games. He returned to run for 80 yards on 11 totes and scored twice, including a 50-yarder, in a 50-o victory at Archbishop Carroll.
Lloyd wore No. 32 as a freshman and No. 6 as a sophomore. He has worn No. 2 since because he says, “God is No. 1.”
“That’s exactly why I wear it,” he said. “I’ve been wearing that pretty much all my life.
Ironically, he can’t suit up in No. 2 at South Carolina because the number is retired: “I’ll be wearing No. 1, so that’s pretty cool. It’s different, but I’ve got to get used to it.”
McGregor already thinks Lloyd is worthy of a No. 1 designation – on and off the field.
“He’s a wonderful young man with a tremendous future,” he said. “I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to coach him.”
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) has been reporting on DeMatha football since 2015.