The Green Bay Packers hit the reset button on the Running Back position this year by signing Josh Jacobs and drafting MarShawn Lloyd in the 3rd round of the NFL draft. Releasing Aaron Jones, a player Brian Gutekunst had called the “heart and soul of the team,” broke the hearts of Packer fans everywhere. And although he eventually returned, AJ Dillon’s role on this team looks to be reduced, if he makes the team at all. Therefore, it makes sense to dive into the Marshawn Lloyd story to learn what kind of man and player the Packers have welcomed into the fold. 

MarShawn Lloyd: Origins

MarShawn Lloyd grew up in Middletown, a small suburb in central Delaware. He first started playing football at the pee-wee level and quickly became the star of the league. In middle school,  Lloyd played for the Wilmington Soldiers and quarterbacked the team to the 2012 Youth Football National Championship. The Soldiers played in the Washington, D.C. metro area, but they were too dominant and it was hard to find good competition. So Marshawn started looking for other schools to test himself against. 

Lloyd was recruited by several area high schools. MarShawn wanted to play locally but DeMatha, a Maryland football powerhouse 2 hours away from his house, offered him an attractive offer. Lloyd and his mother made the daily, four-hour commute to take advantage of this opportunity. They would leave the house at 4:45am, and didn’t return until almost 10pm. Imagine the dedication and determination it takes to keep that schedule up for 4 years. Wow. 

As a freshman backup, MarShawn averaged 9.9 yards per carry and helped the team to a 12-0 record on a team that included numerous future college football stars. After missing most of his sophomore season with a broken left arm, Lloyd led DeMatha to the 2018 conference title game. That game ended in a 59-yard Hail Mary touchdown in the final seconds thrown by then rival, (turned future teammate and back to rival) Caleb Williams. As a senior captain, Lloyd rushed for 1,197 yards on 132 carries (9.1 average) and 11 touchdowns and was named an Under Armour All-American. 

The Play of all Plays

It’s not often I feel compelled to include high school highlight film in these player profiles, but MarShawn Lloyd made a play so spectacular that it was the number 1 play on the ESPN #SCTop10. This landed him ahead of LeBron James and all the other pros who made outstanding plays that day. Not bad for a high schooler from Delaware. 

With film like that, it’s not hard to imagine why the college programs started to swarm MarShawn in pursuit of his services. 

 MarShawn Lloyd: College Years

A four-star recruit, Lloyd was the 5th ranked running back in the 2020 recruiting class and the 43rd ranked player nationally. Several national programs, including Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC made offers to Marshawn during his sophomore year. Georgia and Penn State soon followed. But Lloyd took a visit to South Carolina and knew “immediately” that it was the place for him. He committed to the Gamecocks in May 2019 and was the No. 2 recruit in head coach Will Muschamp’s 2020 class. 

Lloyd was expected to make an immediate impact for the Gamecocks, but he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on the second day of fall camp and redshirted his first year. Lloyd started his redshirt sophomore season at South Carolina and quickly emerged as the team’s leading rusher. After his third season with the program, however, Lloyd elected to enter the transfer portal and signed with the “other” USC. He was highly productive in his one year in the Trojans offense. In 11 games, he averaged 7.07 yards per carry (one of only five FBS running backs to average more than 7.0 yards), while also catching the ball 13 times for an average of 17.85 yards per catch.  Lloyd accepted his invitation to the 2024 Senior Bowl and was voted by his teammates as top RB on the National team.

MarShawn Lloyd: Green Bay Packer

MarShawn at his first OTA practice, May 20, 2024. It’s time.

The draft analysts universally praised MarShawn as an explosive athlete capable of making dynamic lateral cuts with the start-stop footwork to make multiple defenders miss. Daniel Jeremiah crowned Marshawn as his top-RB in the 2024 class. Lloyd also shows tremendous receiving ability. He catches the ball naturally, and while he has mastered the basic checkdown routes, he can also run verticals or wheel routes effectively out of the backfield, making him a valuable offensive chess piece. The words “determination” and “toughness” are frequently mentioned in his character reviews by coaches and scouts, making him sound like the type of locker-room-first type of player the Packers have begun to covet. 

Lloyd will be a great fit in the Packers offense. His receiving ability alone gives them a versatile offensive weapon to feature in the backfield. Many see MarShawn’s game as similar to Josh Jacobs, so expect to see the Packers build their offense around these two tailbacks who can run and catch effectively. Lloyd’s fluid athleticism will allow him to line up wide or play in the slot as a motion player, giving the Packers the option to work more two-back formations into their offense. Coach LeFleur must be drooling at the possibilities. 

Next Steps: It’s Time.

MarShawn Lloyd has been preparing to be an NFL player for the better part of a decade now. Every day, for 4 years, he and his mother suffered that grueling schedule with this singular goal in mind and nothing would move them off of this path. Lloyd has suffered injuries that have set him back, but he has never been knocked off course. Now that he has arrived where he always wanted to be, what comes next?

Six years ago, in 2018, Marshawn tweeted that he was gonna shock the world. On May 20 this year, the day of his first OTA practice as an NFL player, he quoted that original tweet, this time adding more prophetic words: It’s Time.

If he is able to make good on that promise, Packer fans everywhere are going to have a lot of fun watching MarShawn rise. I, for one, can’t wait.