ATHENS - During the one season that Nick Marshall was a cornerback at Georgia, he was so impressive in practice that the offense gave him a nickname: Dr. Death.
The name was pulled from a 1986 movie starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell, in which Williams' character tries to recreate an old high school football game in an effort to win it.
"The defense had this guy named Dr. Death," Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "This DB was over there sticking Robin Williams. That's what we called Nick Marshall. He was Dr. Death."
Marshall never got a chance to live up to that name on the field for Georgia, as he was dismissed from the team in February of 2012. But next Saturday Marshall has a chance to kill his old team's division-title hopes: No. 7 Auburn will host Georgia, and Marshall is now the Tigers' starting quarterback.
Although Marshall played cornerback at Georgia, Bobo and other coaches say that was Marshall's decision. Bobo wanted him as a quarterback.
"No question. Our initial conversations with him in recruiting was quarterback. That's what we recruited him as the whole time. Then toward the end he had a change of heart and wanted to play defense, or another position. We felt he's such a great athlete that we'd let him play whatever he wanted to play.
"I thought he was an NFL corner when he was here."
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham felt Marshall could play cornerback or safety, a reflection of his confidence in Marshall's athletic abilities. Marshall hardly played as a freshman at Georgia, but that was mainly because the team was loaded with veterans in the secondary.
"We thought he would be a good player, and felt like he could contribute to us, being an SEC competitive team defensively," Grantham said. "He had the skill set to be a big, physical corner. I think he would've been really good."
Marshall was twice named the Middle Georgia offensive player of the year by The Telegraph, and led Wilcox County to a state championship as a junior, passing for 2,956 yards and 32 touchdowns.
He was also an outstanding basketball player, and had spoken with Mark Fox about walking on to his team after football season.
"He's an unreal athlete," Bobo said. "I felt he could do anything, really. I had a lot of plans for him offensively, kind of out of the norm of what we might do. But his heart wasn't in it. So we let him play defense. But there's no doubt he could do anything he wants."
One of Marshall's former teammates is Ray Drew, who leads Georgia in sacks this year. Drew and Marshall were both members of the so-called "Dream Team" recruiting class in 2011.
"Someone told me earlier he had 200-plus rushing yards against Tennessee," Drew said after Saturday's game. Then Drew smiled and added: "I just hope that he has a soft spot in his heart for Georgia, seeing that it was his first place that he signed."