All-State defensive lineman signs with the Vikings

A little bit of hard work can go a long way.

For Camdenton senior Marlin Briggs it meant getting to continue playing a game he loves and he made it official on Wednesday signing with Missouri Valley College amongst teammates, coaches, family and friends in attendance to celebrate. As someone who did not become a starter until his junior season, Briggs simply put in the work and was rewarded for his efforts.

“It is awesome,” the senior said after putting his name on the dotted line. “Being able to play at the next level is something I thought I’d never be able to do, but I had a good senior year.”

That he certainly did. As a key cog on the defensive line, Briggs piled up 59 total tackles that featured 10 sacks and nine tackles for a loss to go with eight tipped passes, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. As a result, he was named First Team All-District, First Team All-Region and First Team All-State.

Not bad for someone who did not see very many snaps until the latter half of his career.

“Marlin has done a great job making himself into a football player. He actually played on our CCYFL (Camden County Youth Football League) team in fifth grade and if you could pick him out of a crowd and say he was going to be an All-State player, you would not have,” Camdenton football coach Jeff Shore remarked. “A great kid but as far as his athletic ability at that point in time, it is just a testament to how hard he has worked. He really, really applied himself and turned himself into a very good player… Super proud of him and just a real credit to the work he has put in.”

The transformation did not happen overnight. Shore pointed out that Briggs got into great shape through weightlifting, agilities and a little determination.

“He had the heart and will to do it and boy it really paid off for him,” the coach noted.

But that was not all it took. Briggs also was a student of the game.

“He took coaching well and he got to where he really tried to apply the little parts of the game, really tried to learn the nuances, do things right, critique himself and take those critiques and apply them,” Shore said. “That is the great part of it and a great lesson to be learned is taking yourself and seeing where you can get better and applying that in game or practice situations. He did a really good job of that and the results were outstanding.”

It all came to fruition as a senior where he flourished as a defensive tackle and Briggs said there are a few things that go along with being successful at that position. For Briggs, football is a game that allows him to let out his frustration while having fun at the same time.

“A lot of handiwork and leverage for sure, the low man wins most of the time,” the senior said of his approach.

“You just have to think you are the baddest dude out there, kind of a confident but cocky attitude that you have to bring to the field.”

That may be why he was given the nickname “Wild Kingdom” as a sophomore by former Camdenton assistant Steve Bayless. The nickname was derived from a television show known as “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” that featured a zoologist named Marlin Perkins as the host.

“My sophomore year I was kind of a nobody and would always hop in there on scout team against the starters and would go absolutely as hard as I could, crazy and full speed,” Briggs recalled. “I think he just kind of gave me the nickname because nobody was too big for me to go up against.”

The nickname made perfect sense to Shore.

“He played relentless. If you watch those old ‘Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom’ shows, you see the lion chasing down the wildebeest and that was Marlin,” the coach said with a smile. “He is chasing the quarterback so he was relentless in his pursuit.”

And Shore said there is no reason to believe why he would not bring that same kind of effort to the NAIA school in Marshall, Mo.

“He is a guy that plays super hard and on the field you won’t find a guy that plays any harder than him,” the coach posited. “He is very strong and quick for his size so those are all great attributes. He is relentless and is going to play every play to the max of his ability.”

Briggs said he had talked to a number of small schools, but Missouri Valley stuck out to him because the Vikings were the first to come to Camdenton, talk to him and make him feel invited. The senior’s interest only grew from that point on and he plans to major in education with the intention of becoming a teacher and football coach.

“I went on to visit and enjoyed it a lot. I liked the defensive coaches and it is a place I think I can succeed at and play football still which is awesome,” Briggs stated.

“I’m going to try to get in the best shape of my life this summer and I want to try to start up there. That is my goal.”

If he utilizes the same kind of attitude and work ethic, that could very well happen and Briggs has certainly not taken his path for granted.

“It was awesome looking up to the guys thinking I could never be one of those guys, but when I got to high school it was surreal playing under the lights of Bob Shore (stadium) for sure,” he said. “I’m going to miss it more than anything.”

As parting words of advice, Briggs also emphasized to not let others define what one may be capable of.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that you are not good enough. If you think you are and you work hard enough, you can be good enough at anything you want to do,” the senior said.

Shore said he could not think of anyone who better exemplified that idea.

“He is a great example for guys coming up that maybe don’t have great success at the younger level but really have a desire to play, stay with it and work,” the coach noted. “You could take him from the time he was in fifth grade and his time through the program and I would say Marlin’s playing time was pretty limited, but he never lost his drive, willingness and desire to play football.

“He not only earned a spot on the field, he became one of the best players in the whole state of Missouri at his position.”

And all it took was some hard work.