After a year’s long hiatus, Big Red football has signed one of its more intriguing recruits under head coach David Archer’s tenure — Eddie Marinaro, son of legendary Cornell running back, former National Football League player and actor Ed Marinaro ’71, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and committed to play for Cornell in the upcoming fall season.
The six-foot, 190 pound Bishop England High School senior is currently committed to playing quarterback for the Red. Being the son of Cornell University’s most decorated football player, Eddie comes on campus looking to compete with his fellow teammates while also holding a certain chip on his shoulder that comes with being a legacy athlete.
“Obviously, [my father] is a great role model,” said Eddie in an interview with The Daniel Island News, “He was a good football player and student. That’s all I want to be.”
Eddie Marinaro is more than a unique football recruit, playing three sports throughout high school, having also found success on the lacrosse field and basketball court, and supporting a 3.7 GPA.
In a difficult year of college athletic recruiting, Eddie garnered attention from a multitude of Ivy League institutions. Ultimately though, it was his familial connection to Cornell that drove him toward Ithaca.
Eddie’s father, Ed, may be the happiest member of the Marinaro family to hear the news of his son’s commitment.
“Every father’s dream is to have your child go to the same college you went to,” Ed explained. “Selfishly, I get to go back up and relive my days at Cornell . . . It gives me a reason to get back up there and get reacquainted with the Cornellian community.
His performance during his time in Ithaca made Ed the most decorated football player in Cornell’s history and eventually earned him a spot in the college football hall of fame. The former running back played from 1969-1971 and set 16 NCAA records during his time on campus.
To this day Ed Marinaro still holds the records for most carries per game in a season, career average carries per game, most rushing yards per game over a career and fastest player to reach 1,000 yards rushing. However, Marinaro is mostly known as the first collegiate running back to surpass 4,000 yards rushing, accumulating 4,715 yards over his three seasons with the Red.
His collegiate efforts landed him with the Minnesota Vikings as the fiftieth pick in the 1972 NFL draft. After six seasons and two Super Bowl appearances, Ed retired from football to later pursue an acting career. He most notably took up the role of Officer Joe Coffey in Hill Street Blues from 1981-1986. Modern audiences remember him as Head Coach Marty Daniels in the TV comedy Blue Mountain State.
While Ed is excited for his son to attend his alma mater, he is most proud of Eddie for his academic achievements. “The thing that we’re happiest about is that he’s going to a great school. He’s going to get a great education, and in the world we live in that means something” Ed said.
In addition to finding his footing as Ivy League sports have been on hiatus, Eddie will have to reckon with comparisons to his father’s impressive career.
“[Comparisons are] unavoidable,” said Ed, “but I think that it is up to him to handle it. I think it adds a little extra challenge on his part.”
After having participated in high school, collegiate, and professional football, Ed offered his take on the difference of competing in high school and college.
“There is definitely a greater challenge each and each level,” said Ed. “The biggest difference is size and speed . . . They’re thinking faster and are better athletes, and you know the ones who are going to do well are the ones who have that extra gear and can up their level of play.”
While the difficulty of playing in the Red may be higher, Ed is hopeful that with proper coaching he could reach new heights. “To be honest with you, I don’t really know how good he is,” Ed said. “He had kind of a rocky high school career. As a quarterback he never really got really good coaching . . . With good coaching and with him gaining confidence, I don’t know how good he can be.”
At the end of the day though, Ed hopes that his son will be something more than a great football player.
“I really want him to be a leader and not a follower — to be different,” said Ed. “Don’t be like everybody else. I don’t want him to be influenced negatively or fold in social pressure . . . I want him to be a leader on the field and take pride in the way people perceive him.”