Five years ago when redshirt middle linebacker Tim Marlette arrived at the
University of South Dakota, he was already a proven player in the eyes of most South Dakotans.
A three-year, two-way starter for the Sioux Falls Washington Warriors, Marlette led his school into their first state championship appearance in five years.
Before he even played a single down for USD, Marlette was named the Argus Leader’s Elite 45 captain, which is awarded to the best player in the state each season.
After sitting out his first year as a redshirt, freshman Marlette saw very limited playing time for the Coyotes over his next three seasons.
“Going from being the man, to having to earn your spot on the team in college is something a lot of college athletes go through, and some can’t handle,” Marlette, a senior, said. “But for me it was a humbling experience and at the end of the day football is football. I love the sport and just being around the team.”
No. 25 can now be found roaming in the middle of the Coyote defense and his players and coaches profess the advantages Marlette has gained from being a fifth-year starter are put to good use on the field and in the locker room.
For much of his time at USD, Marlette played under former USD middle linebacker Adam Broders. Linebacker coach Adam Breke said one thing that makes Marlette unique is that he was able to watch and learn under Broders.
Broders was two-time first team All-Great West Conference and led the USD defense in tackles and interceptions with 102 and 3, respectively.
Breke said Marlette is not only the solid rock in the middle of the Coyotes defense, he makes his biggest impact off the field.
“For me, it’s the leadership role (Martlette) plays on the team,” Breke said. “He has no problem leading the team and he leads by example. Overall, he is just a phenomenal leader for our football team.”
First year head coach Joe Glenn said Marlette was voted as a team captain by a landslide and that he portrays the type of football player Glenn wants to have on his team.
“Toughness and spirit,” Glenn said. “(Marlette’s) toughness combined with the linebacker mentally that you have to play tough. He is also a spirited guy, who loves his school and his team. He loves the game of football, and makes the guys around him play better as well as have more fun.”
Marlette said he hopes his experience can help improve the team.
“With any fifth-year player, I have been around the longest over anyone else in the locker room,” Marlette said. “I try to use my experience to help along everyone else, especially the younger guys.”
So far on the season Marlette has helped lead the Coyotes to a 1-1 record and has provided the defense with 19 tackles as well as 1.5 tackles for a loss.
Having been a part of Coyote football for the past five years, Marlette was caught right in the middle of the coaching change last December, having been recruited by and played for former head coach Ed Meierkort. Marlette was someone Glenn could turn to and make the transition as smooth as possible.
“(Marlette) has more experience, which makes him wiser,” Glenn said. “We have a young team, so we need his leadership. He leads by example. He talks the talk and walks walk.”
With USD playing its first full season inside the Missouri Valley Conference, Glenn was brought in to lead the Coyotes into a new direction.
“Its great (playing under Glenn), the atmosphere is amazing right now,” Marlette said. “We are ready for this new challenge and the new energy is a great thing to have going into new conference and into unknown territory.”
Glenn may not be a defensive specialist, but one thing he cannot mistake is charisma
“I’m offensive player and offensive coach, so I don’t spend much time with the defense,” Glenn said. “But for Tim I always take him with me to video shows and T.V. shows, I love the way he carries himself. He has a lot of self confidence and is my kind of guy.”
Besides being a strong football player for the Coyotes, Marlette also knows what it means to be a student and an athlete.
Marlette has already completed his undergraduate degree at USD and after the football season and fall semester, will be starting a new chapter in his life at Iowa State University, where he will start working on his graduate degree in engineering.
“I get the chance to be a normal everyday student again,” Marlette said.
With the Coyote’s last game against South Dakota State in Brookings, Marlette’s last game as a Coyote could possibly be the most important game of his five-year career.
“It’s a huge game,” Marlette said. “We are taking it a game at a time right now, but that game is always in the back of our minds. I know how much that game means to the school and for the people around the state. It’s a much bigger game than just my final game as a Coyote, its going to be nuts.”
Numerous players have come and gone through the Coyote football program with each player taking different memories and skills for life after college. Marlette is no different saying without the support of his parents and former coaches, he would not be where he is today.
“USD has really been a big staple in my life, and I have enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “College football is a full-time job, and it has been a crazy ride, but it sure made the time fly by.”