PULLMAN – In 2015, Armani Marsh and Sam Lockett III played key roles in Gonzaga Prep’s secondary and lifted the Spokane program to the Class 4A state championship.
Now the two Bullpups are representing Eastern Washington once again as starters in the backfield of Washington State’s defense. And you’re looking at another state title.
“When you were a kid in Washington and from Spokane, you grew up watching the Apple Cup, you grew up wanting to be in this state,” Marsh said. “It’s a big time, and it means the world.”
Marcus is a sixth-year Coug, a third-year starter at Nickel and a second-year team captain. Lockett, one year younger than Marsh, reunited with his hometown friend this offseason, taking first-team duties for WSU at safety after a winding journey that took him through the junior college ranks.
“It’s awesome. This is what the kids dreamed of,” Marsh said.
Marsh will play his final collegiate game in Pullman and Lockett will get his first taste of Apple Cup competition Saturday, with WSU (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) and a strong defense facing 12th-ranked Washington (9-2, 6-2) and its high power-passing attack at Gesa Field.
“It’s surreal,” Lockett said. “Who doesn’t want to play in the Apple Cup when they grow up? Blessings. I play with my brother. And of course I get to play against my other brother in U-Dub against me.
Marsh and Lockett will square off against their G-Prep teammate – Devin Culp, a fifth-year Husky and third-year starting tight end.
The three became fast friends in Spokane, meeting early during a youth basketball tournament. The trio helped G-Prep and the Bullpups to their first state championship in 28 years, a 34-16 victory over Skyline (Sammamish) in December 2015 at the Tacoma Dome. G-Prep went 14-0 that year.
“This whole season is just a memory that will last forever,” Marsh said. “Obviously, the team had a lot of guys (including future All-American Cal linebacker Evan Weaver). It was a family. We were all brothers. To be able to have just a season like that – to go undefeated, to win a state championship – is an amazing feeling. There are things I will never forget for the rest of my life. “
Marsh, then a junior cornerback, delivered an interception in the game-winning touchdown. Lockett, a sophomore and G-Prep’s other starting CB, had “incredible coverage the whole game” against the Bullpups’ receiving piles, long-time Bullpups coach Dave McKenna said, noting that Lockett allowed just one completion.
“We believe the two are the best cornerbacks in the state,” Marsh added.
Culp, a sophomore pitcher, ran twice from a different league.
“They were playing lights out,” McKenna said.
A first-team and All-Major Spokane League pick as a senior, Marsh walked on at WSU in 2017. As seniors, Lockett and Culp led G-Prep to the fourth round of the state playoffs. Blame, the recruit touted, signed with UW. Lockett earned a chance to walk on at Utah State.
For to say the least, the three kept a regular correspondence. Even this week, despite the bitterness of the rivalry, he was pleasantly soft and did not exchange silly talks.
“We’ve had each other since we were younger and we keep in touch,” Mars said. “A week ago, Sammy FaceTimed (Gulp). We just said what up, talk to each other on the phone. We’re always in touch.”
They also stayed close to the G-Prep program. Bullpup coaches check in weekly. Marsh returned home to watch the game from the sidelines this fall. Culp and a few UW teammates hosted a free camp this summer for kids in the area.
“I’m so proud,” McKenna said. “On the field, they contract together and talk to each other. When they are stuck in the field, their tails fight. … Just cheer for the kids. I want all three of them to make it to the games. “
Marsh and Lockett will likely line up against Culp in several games this weekend. Two Coug DBs cover the middle of the field, where Culp is often targeted.
Marsh got the better of his former teammate last season. At an early hour the hands of the fourth were pointed at a short distance. Marsh was there to have the second interception of the game, which he returned for a touchdown, sealing the Cougar’s 40-13 victory in Seattle. USU broke a seven-game Lake Cup drought.
“This is great stuff. They’ll go down the road,” McKenna said. “Friendship goes beyond football. As a coach, it’s important to sit back and watch the competition and knowing, at the end of the day, they’re going to take care of each other.”
Pullman meeting blessing;
Marsh was a scout at WSU for the first two years before playing the role in 2019. He won, worked consistently and made the Pac 12 standings last season.
Lockett’s path to this stage of his life was a little less direct. He was slated to be a walk-on receiver at Utah State in 2018, then flipped to safety last season and served on special teams.
“I’m not getting any game time, so I decided to go with the game and I’m lazy,” he said.
Lockett enrolled at JC Power, San Francisco City College, and had a breakout season in 2021, recording three interceptions for the Roms, who went 13-0 and claimed the California Community Athletic Association championship.
All through, Marsh and Lockett kept tabs on each other.
“Even when I was in different schools, we always stayed connected,” Lockett said. “We have been in brotherly love for years.” This will never change. “
At first last time they discussed the possibility of reuniting with the Palouse.
“Either way we took it, we didn’t know it would end this way,” Mars said. “Of course that was the goal. When I was in juco and I was here, we talked about it more specifically, like, “Now you have to be here soon.” “
Lockett was looking for a home through the 2021 recruiting cycle. The Cougars were looking for a new safety or two after losing all of their depth at that point to graduation.
“That was the question mark: Who will replace (George Hicks) and (Daniel Isom) and all those guys?” Cougars quarterback Jake Dickert said.
Marsh Lockett has joined the USU coaching staff.
Several weeks later, the Cougs still hadn’t extended an offer. So Marsh tried again and went straight to Dickert’s office.
“I was like, he can play,” Marsh said. “We just talked and everything was done. … He really deserved the opportunity. I did everything I could to help him connect with the coaches.”
In the end, Dickert was convinced that Lockett’s signing was “just too much to pass up,” considering his experience, impressive 2021 campaign and connection to the WSU program.
“To dream of getting the opportunity to play with each other, not only in high school but at the college level,” Marsh added, “something that we talk about, spoke into existence. It was a great blessing.”
When the offer wrapped, Lockett quickly decommitted from San Jose State and took the plunge to join his longtime friend in his home state. He expressed gratitude toward Marsh, whom Lockett considers a big brother.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, but to be here,” Lockett said, acknowledging that he will get emotional when the season ends and Marsh leaves. “He got me here. He’s one of the big reasons I’m here. He just kept my head on straight through this crazy year we’ve had. He’s been a big factor in my success.
“Every day I’m like, “It’s crazy” when I walk here. I play with my brother. It’s high school again. I get to live those days with someone I care about.”
Spokanites producing at WSU
For the second consecutive season, Marsh was one of the Cougs’ most consistent defenders.
“We’ve both started as walk-ons in our careers, so seeing where it’s coming from – here’s a two-year leader and being a part of this program and this team, that’s what moved me,” Lockett said of Mariscos, who earned an honorable mention last year. he collected
Marsh, at 5-foot-4 and 188 pounds, is skilled against the run and the pass. He ranks third on the team with 60 tackles and has two sacks. According to Pro vehicles except Focus performance metrics, Marsh owns the seventh best grade among all corners/nickels in the Pac 12.
He threw his first interception of the year last week in the fourth quarter against Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura, a former Cougar starter who was retained by his former team.
Marsh is heading into the final stretch of his WSU career, having played 45 games.
“On my down time, I’ve been thinking about all the years and I can play with Sammy’s brother,” Marsh said. “It’s really a big thing for us and the Spokane community, the younger kids looking up to us. We cherish these moments. What we know is welcome. It’s definitely starting to hit me more and more as we get closer. I’m very thankful for my life here – all the memories I’ve created and the ones I’m creating this year.”
Lockett is quietly improving throughout the season, growing in confidence and becoming more familiar with this field of competition.
“Sammy’s fun because he’s done nothing but get better,” Dickert said. “I don’t know if I ever heard Sam say more than two words. He just smiles and works. Armani, too. Very much an example guys. … They really appreciate being here.
The 6-1, 205-pound Lockett is fifth on the team with 46 tackles and leads the Cougars with three interceptions. He was well positioned last weekend, recording two touchdowns in the third quarter against a Wildcat team that entered the game ranked seventh nationally in passing production.
“He’s not going to be the biggest guy in the room, but if you watch him, he always takes care of business and does what he’s supposed to do,” Mars said. “That really inspires me. He’s a player. He has size, but he can run, cover and tackle. He can do everything.
The middle of the field went down in deep coverage on USU’s start of an uncertain campaign, but it settled down well. The Cougars held all but two opponents under 300 passing yards and limited six teams to less than 220 yards through the air.
The Cougar DBs say communication has been the key to their success, and there is no greater connection in the WSU secondary than that between the Spokane natives.
“I just think it helps everyone get more comfortable, it just brings good energy,” Marsh said.
WSU’s defensive backfield will take on its toughest challenge of the season this weekend against its in-state rivals, who boast the No. 1 passing offense in the country.
“(The Apple Cup) is something we have to earn,” Lockett said. “I’m nervous, especially since it’s my first. I never got to play in such an atmosphere. “