Chicago Bears select Fenwick’s Nate Marshall to represent organization at Nike’s Next Ones event

Marshall will travel to Las Vegas day before Super Bowl to compete

Fenwick's Nate Marshall, center, poses with his Friar coaches during a ceremony Tuesday in River Forest announcing that he'll be the Chicago Bears' representative at next month's Nike Next Ones event in Las Vegas.

RIVER FOREST – Sometimes there are days when Fenwick’s Nate Marshall can’t believe the position he’s in.

Tuesday was one of those days.

Marshall already would’ve had a day most kids dream about after Miami head coach Mario Cristobal met with him and then flew off on a helicopter to his next destination.

But Marshall added another once-in-a-lifetime experience just a few minutes later. The Chicago Bears announced he would be their representative in the inaugural Nike Next Ones event set to be held the day before the Super Bowl in Las Vegas.

Sometimes, it’s just hard to believe it’s all true.

“I never expected [Cristobal] to be flying in on helicopters just to meet me, and then we got a special opportunity like this to be able to go to Las Vegas and represent the Chicago Bears,” Marshall said. “It’s pretty big.”

The Bears made the announcement Tuesday during a ceremony at Fenwick’s Priory Campus. Nike asked each NFL team to choose a player from their market to represent them in a showcase of the nation’s top talent on Feb. 10.

Thirty-three players — a player from each team and one international player — will take part in one-on-one drills conducted by Nike trainers and other current and former NFL athletes. The players will get customized Nike gear before the event and then will get to enjoy a celebration dinner and after party in one of Nike’s suites.

The Bears looked at a long list of different players in the area to represent them in the inaugural event. After looking at Marshall’s rankings, accomplishments and being a player from the Chicago area, the Bears felt like he was the best choice.

“We’re very excited,” said Gustavo Silva, the Bears’ manager of youth football and community programs. “Illinois is a huge state, so to have someone just outside of Chicago representing us is a blessing.”

Marshall earned the Bears’ honor and the attention of one of the top Power Five programs after an impressive first three seasons with the Friars. The CCL/ESCC Orange named him its Defensive Player of the Year this past season after earning the same honor when the Friars were in the White division during his sophomore season.

He finished 2023 with 38 tackles, 16 for a loss, with six sacks, 13 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and four blocked kicks. He also caught four touchdowns as a receiver.

Miami isn’t new to recruiting some of the Chicago area’s top defensive lineman after signing St. Ignatius’ Justin Scott and Kenwood’s Marquise Lightfoot. But the Hurricanes are far from the only program to notice the 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive lineman.

Alabama, Texas, Oregon, Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State are all among the long list of schools who have already offered Marshall. 247Sports lists Marshall as a four-star defensive lineman prospect, the second-best prospect in Illinois and 22nd in the nation, while Rivals also lists him as four-star, the best prospect in Illinois and 23rd in the country.

Despite all the attention, Marshall has focused on trying to get better and improving. Fenwick coach Matt Battaglia has watched him handle everything smoothly and not let the moments get the best of him.

He’s proud to have Marshall represent the school in such a unique event.

“It’s great for the program, it’s great for the school to have such a great representation of what Fenwick, the community and the high school, are about here,” Battaglia said. “It’s really special.”

Marshall’s excited for the opportunity to not only compete against some of the best but also learn from the best. He plans on hopefully meeting some of the top past and current NFL players so that he can continue to work and get better.

His work ethic got him to days like Tuesday. Why would he stop what he’s doing?

“It really means a lot that I can trust my work and my work ethic for it to lead me to the right place, like now,” Marshall said. “It’s not the final destination, but it’s one of the ones we would’ve liked to get to and we got to it.

“Obviously, we’re happy about it.”