Recruiting Report: Marvin Njuguna (2019)
On paper, the Park Center Pirates’ football team didn’t appear to have a great season. They only won two games. On paper, Pirates’ senior Marvin Njuguna didn’t have the season he expected either. In both cases, the season laid the groundwork…
On paper, the Park Center Pirates’ football team didn’t appear to have a great season. They only won two games. On paper, Pirates’ senior Marvin Njuguna didn’t have the season he expected either. In both cases, the season laid the groundwork for bigger things for both in the future.
“I know the record didn’t show it in terms of change, but I feel like the season was a big eye-opener for the juniors,” Njuguna said. “Everybody has to want to win. There is no ‘we’ve got it next year.’ You have got to want it now. I think the younger guys got that, and I feel like the program is about to change. I feel like the juniors and sophomores can start to change things, and I feel like the seniors this season started that change.”
By the end of the year, Njuguna felt the Pirates were playing together.
“Sometimes people want to play ‘Me Ball,'” Njuguna explained. “I feel like we started to change that. We started to play as a team, and I think the senior guys helped the younger guys see that. We all have to play together to win a game. One person can’t win a game; everyone has to do their job.”
Njuguna felt the senior class’ influence was felt off the field too.
“We had more guys in the weight room than I think we have ever had. I feel like (the underclassmen) are going to take this seriously.”
When the team was playing well, they were playing complementary football and playing together.
“When we ran the ball well, it opened up the passing game. We were able to get the ball to the right guys,” Njuguna told northstarfootballnews.com. “On defense, I feel like our strength was blitzing and getting to the passer. That helped our corners get confidence, and when the defensive backs were clicking, they were making plays.”
It was a season of adjustment – but a successful adjustment – for Njuguna.
“My season was all over the place,” the senior admitted. “When I came into the season, I thought I was going to be a wideout. Before the season I got an offer from Minnesota-Moorhead as a linebacker. I asked my coaches, and they moved me to linebacker. I still got more snaps on the offensive side of the ball, but on the defensive side, it went well. It would have been better if I could have focused on that side of the ball.”
“I have learned to love the defensive side of the ball,” Njuguna continued. “I realized defense is my side of the ball.”
The Minnesota State-Moorhead coaches noticed something in Njuguna.
“I was at Moorhead’s camp this summer, and I was doing offensive drills. The coaches asked me to try a tackling drill. We weren’t tackling – we were just wrapping up – but I think they saw something in that drill that they liked. The rest of the time I was at wide receiver.”
As his senior year started, Njuguna played more and more defense.
“I started at outside linebacker, and then I moved to defensive end. I would drop back into coverage a few times as a defensive end to mix things up.”
Henderson was not only learning a new position, but he was also learning a new side of the ball.
“The biggest change was the guys I was going against, the 6’3” 205-pound senior explained. “I was used to going against corners who were smaller than me so I could use my strength and size to overpower kids. I didn’t have to use my hands that much. When I switched to the defensive side, I was going against guys my size or bigger. I had to use my hands and quickness. That was the most challenging part – realizing I needed to use my quickness, my hands, and my length.”
Now a two-way player, Njuguna‘s strengths on each side of the ball were opposites.
“As a wide receiver, my size and jumping ability were my biggest strengths. On the defensive side of the ball my speed, quickness and length are my strengths.”
This winter Njuguna – who someday would like to combine his loves of football and math – is in the weight room. This spring he will continue to lift but is also planning on running track. He went out for track as a freshman but got hurt and has been reluctant to go out for track again – until this spring. He hopes to compete in the jumping events and possibly middle-distance races.
As far as football goes, Njuguna feels he needs to continue to work on the new skills he learned during the season.
“I need to work on using my hands and length as a defender. I also don’t think my feet are where they need to be yet as a defensive player. I learned a lot this year, but I know I need to know more with my new positions.”
The change in position helped spark the recruitment of the Park Center senior.
“I am excited about recruiting. In previous years I wasn’t playing that much, and I didn’t have much hope of playing in college. Starting with the Moorhead camp I got an offer from them, and I realized college football might happen. Then Bethel and Augsburg contacted me. After the season started St. Scholastica, Hamline, Luther College, Valley City, University of Mary, Southwest Minnesota State and Missouri Southern started contacting me.”
In addition to Moorhead, Njuguna has offers from Mary, SMSU and Missouri Southern. All the schools with offers see him as a defensive player – mostly as a defensive end.
“They like my size,” Njuguna said of the programs who have offered him, “and see a lot of potential. They know I was raw this year and they want to see what they can do with me. The schools all want to red-shirt me, teach me and put some weight on me.”
Njuguna‘s first year in college football might mirror his senior year – on the surface, the season might not appear to be what Njuguna expects – but will lay the groundwork for bigger things.
Note: Shortly after this story was published, Njuguna committed to Missouri Southern.