His talents are hidden, buried on the scout team and concealed by a shroud of secrecy because of Kansas University's closed practices.
Yet in a tumultuous year in which the Jayhawks' top two quarterbacks -- Adam Barmann and Jason Swanson -- have gone down with apparent shoulder injuries, fans are looking to the future of KU football and wondering where Marcus Herford fits in.
Herford, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound quarterback, joins freshman running back Gary Green as two of the most intriguing KU talents hardly anybody has seen. A freshman out of DeSoto, Texas, Herford has spent his red-shirt season on the scout-team offense, and those close to the program are beaming about what he might be able to do for KU in the near future.
"I think (KU linebacker) Nick Reid said it best," coach Mark Mangino said. "He said, 'From the time this guy's arrived here to now ... coach, he is unbelievable.'"
Big words for a linebacker who has lined up against Heisman winner Jason White, Kansas State's Ell Roberson and Missouri's Brad Smith during his days in Lawrence.
But Reid's comments aren't out of the ordinary, either. Take senior safety Tony Stubbs, who was asked if Herford was as two-dimensional as Bill Whittemore, KU's standout QB in 2002 and 2003.
"I think he's going to be better than Bill," Stubbs said matter-of-factly. "Bill's my boy and all, but (Herford's) definitely got some talent."
And so the intrigue grows. Herford was rated as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation by rivals.com last year, which reported the QB as running a 4.46-second 40-yard dash his senior year in high school.
Now, he has wowed a KU coaching staff that plucked Herford out of the rich fields of Texas with his arm and legs.
"He's made our defense better down on the scout team because he can run and he can throw," Mangino said. "If the defensive back wants to take a play off, he'll throw the ball right on the money and embarrass him and the coaches down on defense will get mad at him."
Added Stubbs: "If they're going to be an option team next year, they can definitely do it with Herford."
Herford made the trip to Ames, Iowa, and practiced with the wide receivers in pregame warmups prior to KU's game Oct. 30 at Iowa State. He wasn't being moved there permanently, but Mangino indicated that Herford's good enough to play receiver in the Big 12 Conference if he was asked to.
Herford played receiver much of his senior year at Cedar Hill High, and his effectiveness caused more schools to inquire about his college plans.
Sleep easy, KU fans. Mangino insists that Herford will be a quarterback at KU. And if the chatter is accurate from those who see him practice, he could be a darn good one, too.
"He's a very intelligent young man, and a really talented athlete," Mangino said. "He has everything you're looking for. He just needs to be polished up and get experience."