Former RHS football player recognized for his defensive efforts

Elon athlete, Marcus Willoughby, Soars to greatness

Smart. Hard-working. Determined. These are all traits used to describe former RHS football player Marcus Willoughby as he is awarded CAA Defensive Player of The Week at Elon.

Willoughby graduated from Riverside high school, four years ago and is currently in his senior year at Elon University. He’s had amazing seasons with the University, but his recent play against the Citadel Bulldogs has been recognized with the CAA Defensive Player of the Week.

This isn’t the first time such honors have been given to the former RHS graduate, back in 2018 he was rewarded for his 9 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss of yards and 2 sacks against New Hampshire. 14 tackles, 2 of which were for a loss of yards, and 1 sack are amazing stand out stats.When asked about the differences between high school football and collegiate level football,Willoughby explains the one major difference.

Willoughby has been playing organized football since the age of nine. He played Tight End and Defensive End. He’s had quite a bit of time to get better at the sport and his position. He compares himself to Lawrence Taylor and Patrick Willis. Both are considered to be legends by many in the football field. “It’s both a physical and mental difference. College football is almost like a job, you have to stay the entire year working out and grinding, it’s 24/7.” says Willoughby, “ It never stops, not even in the offseason. In high school, you play a season and then you’re off until the next and get ready for workouts.

As a pre-game ritual, Marcus listens to gospel music all day. “I listen to gospel music and pray before games because I’m not playing for myself, I’m playing for God and for my family.” 

Willoughby later goes to say that aside for academic reasons, Elon was a perfect fit for him because it felt like he was welcomed into a family. He considers himself a very family oriented man and Elon provided that feeling. 

Although Willoughby is honored to be recognized for such play, he still has other things on his mind. “Yeah it’s nice for me to be recognized and get a little exposure, but if as a team we’re not winning games, at the end of the day it doesn’t mean anything. I missed three tackles against Citadel and I strive for perfection.”

Marcus would love to see his team have a run in the playoffs this season, but that all starts by winning their conference. He feels that in order to take things to the next level, the entire team must be mentally stronger and ready for anything that comes their way. As for visiting Riverside, he plans to stop by and make a few surprise visits to a couple of games when has the chance. 

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