When Wesley tailback Marcellus Pack cracked off a 51-yard run on the Wolverines’ first play from scrimmage against Salisbury earlier this season, it was a moment the Baltimore-native had been craving.
“I just pretty much read it. The play was designed to go in the middle, but the middle was clogged, so I just bounced it using my speed. Everyone had been waiting for me to have a long run to showcase my speed, so it was a boost on the outside and get the momentum and defense going.”
Helping to try to fill the shoes of All-Region running back E.J. Lee after his season-ending turf toe injury hasn’t been easy for Wesley, but “hasn’t been easy” is par for the course for Pack.
Marcellus is one of six children, with a father he said spent time in prison, and a mother who was struggling with how to raise a family alone. He said it’s a place that breaks many.
“It was here and there, up and down, the typical father locked up, mom not really around. I was raised by different people, living in different houses. It was rough, but I overcame it, but I always used football as my outlet. When I first started football, I started myself. I sold bottles of water to pay tuition for the team to get equipment, and ever since then I’ve been playing for free.”
Motivated by his cousins, while living with his Godmother Sherry Blackwell, Pack said football became that rock, but despite having success for 3 years at Baltimore power Edmondson-Westside High School, a big change was coming.
Pack’s coach at Edmondson, Dante Jones, took the head coaching job at Dover, and Pack followed him to Delaware’s capital.
Leaving Baltimore represented a second chance.
“It’s hard to be positive. For people to make it out of Baltimore it’s really amazing. Everybody is corrupted, I never wanted to end up where my father is at, or end up like people I see every day going back and doing the same thing. I didn’t want to be that person.”
But going from Baltimore to Dover took some getting used to.
“It was definitely a big change. I was going into my senior year of high school, and knew pretty much everyone at my old high school. I had to come in and learn the system, meet new people, play with new coaches, and go into a new environment. It was slower, everything was further apart. In Baltimore, everything was in walking distance, it wasn’t the same here.”
In just one season in Dover, Pack made a major impact. He helped lead the Senators to the playoffs, and earned Second Team All-State honors, finishing behind Salesianum’s Troy Reeder, who is currently a linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams.
Pack spent two seasons at Nassau Community College on Long Island, hoping to improve his grades and impress a Division I scout.
It didn’t work out though, and Pack returned to Delaware, trying to find the right fit.
“I was doing construction, I worked at the market, I did a couple of jobs at the warehouse, I was all over because I didn’t know what I was good at. I wanted to go back to college so I could do something I really would like to do.”
What he wanted to do was play football, his favorite release valve. In the meantime, Dante Jones had taken a spot on Wesley’s coaching staff, and the stars aligned.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be back on the field. I’m playing flag football and stuff like that to stay in shape just in case I did get this opportunity. I appreciate Coach Jones, Coach [Chip]Knapp, and Coach [Mike] Drass for getting me into the school and giving me an opportunity to play football and finish my career here.”
Last year, Pack saw limited action, but after E.J. Lee’s injury, it was all hands on deck, and with that big run against Salisbury, his playing time soared.
Off the field, Marcellus’ responsibilities also grew, as he tackled his biggest challenge yet: parenthood.
Marcellus is the father to Zuri & A’Mei Pack, and said between them and his girlfriend, success at Wesley in the classroom has become vital.
“It was a big motivation, especially with me having kids now, I can’t be looking for a mediocre job. I need something that will supply us yearly, not monthly.”
As for his 1-and-3-year-olds, Pack said his daughters drive him.
“They bring so much joy out of me. It’s amazing to watch them grow. Somebody that I created, grow into their own personality, and become their own little self, it’s amazing.”
Fatherhood is certainly a thing for the Wolverines, and Marcellus said his teammates take notes off of each other just like a film study session with the coaches.
“We talk about things; we support each other when things go wrong. Everybody has problems, so we support each other the best we can. I’m the guy on the team who has the most experience as far as being a dad. I’m probably the only guy on the team who is a full-time dad and a full-time player. We just support each other and have each other’s backs. Everybody’s kids are everyone else’s kids, it’s like nephews and nieces in a big family.”
But Baltimore still stays in the back of Marcellus’ mind. While he makes a point that he hasn’t gone back to Baltimore, and that his family has to come to Delmarva to visit him, he wants to use his political science degree and return back to Baltimore one day as a homicide detective.
“My city where I come from, a lot of friends that I lost whose murders haven’t been solved. I just want to get into that field and be the best I can be and solve as many cases as I can. My city motivated me to be that guy.”
Marcellus said if, or when, he returns back to Charm City, it could be to a mixed response in the place he grew up.
“Some people would be proud of me, some people wouldn’t. Just because of the lives they chose, they wouldn’t be proud of the life I chose. I just have to do it for me and my family, and not worry about anyone else.”
But Marcellus isn’t done with Wesley, yet. He knows his next loss with Wesley will end his collegiate career, but he wants the journey to last as long as possible.
“Every day I wake up out here, I think I can’t believe I’m still doing this and playing football. I started with a lot of people, and half of them aren’t even playing anymore and crumbled their life. It’s just a blessing to still be playing, to be playing in a national playoff, it’s real special. I cherish it. I definitely have something when I’m running that ball.”
And when he’s done running, and hopefully a detective in Baltimore, he said he wants to inspire Baltimore’s next generation.
“That’s the one place I would love to coach. I’ve been so many places and I know what it takes to get to the next level. I don’t know what it takes to get to the NFL, but I know how to get them into college. I would like to go back and start a Pop Warner team or coach at a high school in my city, just to give back, and say I’ve been here, I’ve been to all the same things you’re going through, and I’m hoping to leave you somewhere different.”
It hasn’t been the straightest road, but as some of Marcellus’ opponents have learned this season, sometimes you have to make 3-4 juke moves to find the longest runs.
Marcellus Pack just wants to keep running for himself, his family, and those who have helped him along the way.