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Former Hawkeye subject of documentary

'Packer Pride' will highlight Paschal's Largo roots

Iowa defensive back Marcus Paschal wears his helmet backwards as he jokes with his teammates during a spring  football p
Iowa defensive back Marcus Paschal wears his helmet backwards as he jokes with his teammates during a spring football practice, Saturday, April 15, 2006, Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jason A. Cook, Iowa City Press-Citizen)

This showed up in my inbox this morning.

I’m sure most of you remember former Iowa safety Marcus Paschal. Here’s a release about a documentary, “Packer Pride,” that has him as the subject.

Packer Pride documentary to debut at All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival

Former Hawkeye uses football to promote social change

LARGO, Fla. – Packer Pride profiles former University of Iowa safety Marcus Paschal (Largo, ’02) as he promotes social change through football. Paschal returns to his high school alma mater as a first-year head coach after playing in the NFL. University of South Florida professor Travis Bell produced the documentary short film that will debut at the All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday, November 8 at 12 p.m. at LA Live.

“I think building this program will not only help Largo High School, but ultimately help the Ridgecrest community,” Paschal said. “I think that’s the drive. It’s not just the game. It’s to build my community up.”

Paschal is a four-year NFL veteran who found football as an outlet to escape the Ridgecrest community he is from in Largo, Florida. His mission is to help past, present, and future Largo football players, and anyone else in Ridgecrest, to find a way out. Instead of emphasizing to permanently leave the community, Paschal teaches the importance of coming back to give back.

“One thing I love about Marcus is, even though he played in the NFL, he’s always trying to get others to make it to the next level,” former Iowa State and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Leonard Johnson (Largo, ’08) said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be the NFL but life in general. He just wants to see everybody do well, and that’s why I was so proud that Largo offered him the head coaching job.”

Largo High School has built a football tradition that is unmatched in Pinellas County. The Packers won nine consecutive district titles through 2013, but the tradition began when Paschal was a quarterback and safety in 2000-01. Paschal led Largo to the school’s first district championship in 25 years. Paschal then played safety for the Hawkeyes and in the NFL, mostly with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens.

“It’s real exciting to see a guy that went through the program, and then make it through college and go to the NFL and come by to be a high school football coach,” said former Largo head coach Rick Rodriguez, who retired in 2013 after 15 season. “Being a high school football coach takes a special person. It’s not about the money. It’s about building kids and character.”

Bell joined the USF faculty in 2012 and is a freelance videographer for various regional sports networks. He worked as a sports anchor and multimedia journalist for 12 years, including six years at WTSP in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival runs from November 7-9. The films will screen at Regal Cinemas 14 at LA Live. The festival began in 2009, but this is the first year at LA Live.

If you don’t remember Marcus Paschal from his Hawkeye years, here’s a column from The Gazette’s Mike Hlas that followed him to his hometown during one of Iowa’s Florida bowl trips:

Paschal pumped to return

LARGO, Fla. - Twenty-one miles is all that separates Anita Paschal’s house here from Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.

Anita’s son, Marcus Paschal, has come home to play some football. The junior free safety will start for Iowa on Monday when the Hawkeyes face Florida in the Outback Bowl.

“He’s all pumped up,” Anita said. “Ready to go.”

These Florida bowls are only fair for the families of the Floridians on Iowa’s roster. They have to do some serious travel any other time they leave home to see their young men play in person. Anita said Marcus snapped up 30 game tickets from teammates who didn’t need theirs and was trying to get more for family, friends and former coaches.

But he’ll have just one mom in the stadium, and she’ll be as pumped as her son.

“It’s like a rush,” Anita said.Two years ago, Paschal was a red-shirt freshman who played mostly on special teams in Iowa’s 37-17 Outback Bowl win over Florida. Now he’s a second-year starter who has evolved into a very good college player.

“I’d describe myself as a total package at safety,” he said. “I think I’m smart,PASCHAL, PAGE 6CPaschal/Iowa safety confident, not arrogantFrom 1Cphysical and fast.

“And confident.”

Confident, but not to the point of arrogant. You don’t hear “arrogant” used to describe Paschal from those Anita said. who have been around him. But confident, absolutely. It’s a trait he shares with his mother.

“I’m confident in everything I do,” Anita said. “Whatever I set my mind to do, I think I accomplish it.”

Anita is administrative support specialist for Pinellas County Utilities and a part-time financial planner for Primamerica.

“I’m very motivated,” she said.

As is Marcus. He wasn’t some can’t-miss recruit. Before Iowa defensive backs coach Phil Parker started checking him out, he weighed a choice of Division I-A Troy State in Alabama or I-AA Hofstra in New York’s Long Island.

His father, Anthony Paschal of Largo, preferred that Marcus go to Hofstra and play quarterback. Marcus was a quarterback, defensive back and team MVP his senior season at Largo High. (He also was homecoming king.) Anita leaned toward Troy State, where Marcus could play receiver and stay a bit closer to home.

But Iowa came into the recruiting picture late, liked the player, and he liked Iowa. That was good enough for Anita, who encouraged Marcus to go for it.

“I love it up there,” Anita said, “and he seems to love it up there.

“All Marcus’ life, he wanted to play for Florida State. That was his dream. But as he got older, he started to see the type of people Florida State was recruiting. They were all like all-American in high school and stuff like that. He was viewing long-term, like if he went to Florida State he might not play until his senior year, where (instead) he’s going somewhere where he can have an impact right now.”

And, you can get to the NFL as a safety from Iowa. Bob Sanders and Sean Considine are ex-Hawkeye safeties in the pros, and Derek Pagel squeezed out two seasons of NFL pay.”Coming here and learning from Bob Sanders, Pagel, Considine, you get to realize what you need to do to get where you want to go,” Marcus said. “They really put work ethic into me.

“I wasn’t recruited, just like Bob wasn’t. But he’s going to his first Pro Bowl this year.”

Perhaps the person least surprised about Paschal’s college success is himself. Rather, himself and his mom.”He’s had a passion for the game since he was 8 years old,” Anita said. “Anyone who’s really known him since Little League knew he was going to the next level.”

She has another son, who may also be playing Division I football next year. Receiver Andrew Paschal just finished his sophomore season at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and may take recruiting visits to Wyoming and Southern Illinois.

“I tell my sons that whatever they set their mind to do, they can accomplish it,” Anita said.

If Marcus ever doubted that, which seems unlikely, he needs only look at what he’s done in football. Then he’ll be reminded that his mom is right.

BTW, Iowa is back to recruiting Florida, picking up RB Karan Higdon just last night.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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