Marlon Bridges

Marlon Bridges has made a combined 168 tackles in the last two seasons.

Matt Reynolds/JSU Photo

JACKSONVILLE — It's hard to miss Marlon Bridges on the Jacksonville State football practice field, even when his jersey rides up and makes the No. 1 on the front look kind of like a No. 7.

It's been that way since the 2015 season when he played on the scout team while redshirting in his first year on campus. At the time, coaches and teammates point out Bridges as a player to watch for the future.

In 2016 and '17, he has started all 24 games, made All-Ohio Valley Conference both years, landed on the Freshman All-America squad in 2016, and was a consensus All-American in 2017.

If the folded jersey makes it hard to locate Bridges, just follow the ball. He has made 168 tackles the last two years combined, which is the most on the team in that span.

Here's five fast facts about Bridges, as Jacksonville State goes through its first practices of the spring this week:

1. Vocal leader

Bridges said that in the past, he has led by example, but this spring, the JSU coaches have asked more of him. They want him to serve not only as a leader for the defensive backs but for the team as well.

"That's something we talked about," Bridges said after Tuesday's practice. "They want me to start being a more of a vocal leader and have the team to listen to me."

2. High goals

As three of his former teammates (Darius Jackson, Siran Neal and Roc Thomas) just got through with participating in the NFL Scouting Combine, Bridges has dreams of pro football. He said his first goals are to get his degree from Jacksonville State and help the team win a championship, but down the road, he wants a shot at the NFL.

"I apply myself every day and work as hard as I can toward reaching the goals that I have," he said.

3. Technique work

The current version of Bridges is just fine and has earned a lot of honors. But he said he's using this spring to continue to improve. He added that sometimes the improvement is small, but "small things matter."

"I want to work on a lot of stuff, not just the stuff that I need to improve," he said. "I work on the things that I do well. I want to improve my technique and get better every day. I feel like I've come a long way, and I want to keep getting better."

4. Spring thoughts

JSU worked out Monday and Tuesday, with the third practice scheduled for today. Bridges had a clear idea of which side of the ball looked best.

"The offense had an edge the first day," Bridges said with a smile, "but we killed it on defense (Tuesday)."

5. QB thoughts

With All-OVC quarterback Bryant Horn out this spring after having shoulder surgery, JSU has a chance to get plenty of work for redshirt freshman Zion Webb and Clemson transfer Zerrick Cooper, who has three years of eligibility left.

"They bring a spark," Bridges said. "Zion was on the scout team last year, and we know a lot about him. Coop brings a little more of the FBS here. He was at Clemson with Deshaun Watson and Kelly Bryant. They both bring a lot to the table, and both are helping elevate us to our main goal, which is a national championship."

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.