TAMPA — Ask Victor Marc what he considers his natural position on a football field and, almost out of habit, there is a pause.
"I'm not even sure," he says. "Just an athlete."
The junior from Hallandale has lined up for a bit just about everywhere in his three seasons with the Bulls. He was a dual-threat quarterback in high school, was ranked as the nation's No. 19 running back prospect by ESPN.com, then got his first look at USF as a safety. Halfway through his freshman season, he was moved to quarterback, then spent last year working at running back and receiver.
"It was real tough at first," Marc said this week, preparing for USF's homecoming game at noon today against Cincinnati. "I just stuck with it, prayed to the man upstairs, and that just gave me faith to listen to my coaches."
His first year at USF, he logged a single tackle on special teams. Last year, he managed a single reception, barely able to make it on the field. But this season, he has settled in as a versatile receiver and is second on the team with 15 receptions and a pair of touchdowns.
"There are so many players that are maturing in the program, and Victor is certainly one of the ones that's leading that charge as a guy ready to take on more responsibility as an every-down player," coach Skip Holtz said. "He's been learning how to play wide receiver and is really fitting in out there. I think he's made great strides. … He's making himself a very valuable asset for this football team. He's big, he's strong, he's athletic, he's a very good blocker, he's got a great understanding of the game of football. He's adding a whole other dimension."
At 5 feet 11, 220 pounds, Marc has a running back's body with a receiver's moves, and USF uses him in a number of ways from its hybrid "H" position. He's a frequent target on the bubble screen, used as an extension of the running game, with multiple receivers lined up wide to one side and a quick throw to one, with the other acting as a blocker. Such a play resulted in a 23-yard gain on the final drive last week as the Bulls tried to rally in a 16-10 loss at Connecticut. Marc is also used in the option package as a running back; he took a pitch 67 yards for a touchdown in a win against Texas-El Paso last month.
"He has a lot of physical characteristics we like," offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. "He's a runner. He has good feet, catches the ball well, is a good underneath route runner. There's a lot of physical traits we like, that we've had players in this system before that have been really effective."
The model for Marc is a receiver named Dwayne Harris, now with the Cowboys in the NFL, who was a star for Holtz and Fitch at East Carolina. During their last year with the Pirates in 2009, Harris was a first-team All-Conference USA selection, catching 83 passes for a team-high seven touchdowns, plus running for another five scores out of a wildcat formation. Marc hasn't been used in that manner at USF, but his days as a high school quarterback make it an option as he develops.
Marc credits this spring, when a shoulder injury to Lindsey Lamar gave him extra work, as the time when he knew things were starting to click.
"For a guy like him, every rep was so valuable to him, and he's come a long way," said Joe Sloan, an offensive graduate assistant. "He's done better off the field, in school, and that stuff carries over. I think he's grown up a lot."
Even if Marc has needed time to find a position, he has always known USF was the place for him. He and sophomore cornerback Ricardo Dixon, teammates and friends since eighth-grade basketball, decided on USF at the end of their sophomore year. They committed together and were the first members of USF's 2009 recruiting class to sign.
Marc is quick to thank the players who have helped him settle into his current role, both receivers, such as Sterling Griffin, and running backs, such as Demetris Murray, who have helped him learn the entire offense, so it matters less where he's lining up. Regardless, he's just an athlete looking to make a play.
"It's a group effort," Marc said of his development. "I've worked on the little things like route running, catching, coming off the ball, finishing after the play. Just working hard with all my teammates. … I'm very comfortable now."