MICHIGAN CITY — An artist has his canvas, a musician has his instrument and Marquan Hurt has his 100 yards of turf.
"I have a football platform," the Michigan City senior said. "I get to be me, to express myself. Really, off the field, I'm way different, I'm real chill, real quiet. On the field, you see me riled up, getting my teammates hyped. I love to talk."
Boy, does he ever. What separates Hurt from the rest of the chatter is he backs it up with his play.
"I put the work in. I grind," he said. "I do walk it and talk it. I can walk it and talk it. I love that. I play with a chip on my shoulder. We always have to play with a chip on our shoulder. I'm a huge family guy. I love playing football and I love having my family see what I can do."
It's that infectious energy that Wolves defensive coordinator Roy Richards loves most about Hurt. Well, maybe second most, after his play-making ability.
"Marquan is the guy that makes this defense go," Richards said. "When he is not there, we function and have lots of good players but the spark is missing. He brings attitude, passion, and emotion to the game and offers a sense of urgency that is not always present without him. Marquan plays the game like a little kid who doesn't want to leave the field because he knows he won't be able to play forever. That is what separates him from the others."
Hurt followed his brother Markice, a former Wolves running back standout now playing at Ball State, into the game. While their game personalities couldn't be more distinct, the influence is still strong.
"That's my role model," Marquan said, calling this Markice's breakout year. "That's who showed me everything, football, life, basically everything I know. He's real humble, real quiet on the field, I'm way louder, way more aggressive. He's the reason I watched football. He played Pop Warner, as soon as I got up to age, I played Pop Warner. I'm busy, he's busy, but we talk every time we get a chance, basically every day. That's my brother. He'll make sure I'm doing right and I'll make sure he's going great."
Since Markice plays the other side of the ball, Marquan had to find someone else to model his game after, and that's Chargers strong safety Derwin James from Florida State.
"That's my biggest idol. I'm like his young goat," Hurt said. "I base my game off him. I'm a hybrid DB, I'm not a corner/safety. You see me come up, I tackle running backs, I can play that tight end. I'm a football player."
That ability to play multiple roles is invaluable and makes Hurt an intriguing recruiting prospect.
"He is a very physical, smart player," City coach Phil Mason said. "He works extremely hard on his physical attributes to make himself the best player he can be. He focuses on field leadership. He has total control of that defense and makes sure everyone is lined up and knows their responsibilities."
It's a role Hurt has grown into and come to embrace.
"It's expanded this year a whole lot. I love it," he said. "I grew a lot from being a freshman. Being an older guy, I'm helping the younger guys, really showing them, making sure they're learning, knowing their jobs. It's a difference between just getting on the field and really playing. That's the biggest thing with being a leader right now. I have to hold everyone accountable, make sure everything gets done. We have all our (defensive backs) from last year. We're really experienced. The defense is great. I got confidence in my team. I trust my boys that we're going to come out with the victory. We just have to see growth, keep getting better."
Hurt weighs 182 pounds, up about seven from last year. He worked out on his own in the off-season as well as with his uncle, Eric Griffin, a personal trainer who geared Hurt's training to his specific benefit. Colleges look at his lean frame and see the potential to get him up to about 200.
"I'm really on a bad diet," he said. "When I get to (college), I can build my mass up, get bigger, stronger."
Current interest ranges from Mid-American Conference schools Ball State, Toledo and Western Michigan to Division IIs like Grand Valley, which Hurt sees as the next step in his football journey.
"My brother went through it, my cousins went through it. I've seen it. Everything is written for me. I know how the recruiting process goes," he said. It's wherever God leads me. I really label this as a job. I want to go to the NFL for it. I am going to go to the NFL for it."