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Nico Marley starting at linebacker for Tulane as a freshman

Tulane University
Linebacker Nico Marley has made an impact on the Tulane defense in his first season on campus.

When it comes to name recognition, Tulane players take a back seat to no one. First, Joe Montana's son starts at quarterback. You want an even bigger name? Bob Marley's grandson is a starter at linebacker.

Nick Montana (6-feet-3, 208 pounds) is a junior who began his career at Washington before transferring to a junior college; he signed with Tulane in February and has thrown for 471 yards and five TDs in the Green Wave's first two games.

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Nico Marley (5-8, 180) has been a surprise for the Green Wave. He attended high school in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and started at linebacker for three years for a good team in Florida's largest high school classification. But his lack of size was a huge hindrance on the recruiting trail -- he chose Tulane over FCS program Duquesne -- and most analysts thought he would be a college safety. But he has started the first two games at linebacker for the Green Wave.

Marley is fourth on the team with 11 tackles. He also has an interception, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup.

Marley's dad, Rohan, was an undersized linebacker for Miami in the early 1990s, leading the Hurricanes in tackles with 95 in 1993. Rohan was known for his instincts, toughness and fearless attitude, and Nico -- who also is extremely strong (he benched 345 pounds and squatted 500 in high school) -- has the same attributes.

"Nico Marley excites me because he's active," Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said at a news conference before the season. "That's one of the things our defense wasn't last year. ... Nico Marley is my starter because he's active, he can bring it and he's a very, very smart young man. I love him. I love his attitude and his enthusiasm."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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