All eyes will be on Fort Bend Marshall High senior quarterback Malik Hornsby as he suits up in the black and gold for his second and final year at the Missouri City school.

Hornsby, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 188 pounds, enters the 2019 season with an unbridled determination to lead Marshall back to the state championship game and clinch the Buffalos’ first-ever Class 5A crown. Formerly the signal-caller for Houston’s Stephen F. Austin High, Hornsby adjusted nicely when he first arrived at Marshall for his junior season.

“It was great for him,” Buffalos head football coach and athletic director James Williams told Texas Scorecard. “He came right in and fit in with the guys. He’s a natural leader, so guys had no problem following him. He did a really good job learning.”

Several college scouting reports describe Hornsby as a dual-threat, but Williams emphasized that his quarterback knows how to play the position.

“He’s able to make every throw on the field,” the coach said. “He can read defenses well. He controls the huddle and does a really great job in that aspect. . . . He’s absolutely a serious dual-threat, but he wants to be a quarterback first.”

In 2018, Hornsby earned a reputation as one of the best quarterbacks in the state and the country leading the Buffalos to a 15-win campaign and Marshall’s debut appearance in the 5A Division II title game, all while dealing with the untimely passing of beloved teammate Drew Conley.

“It’s really tragic and it still affects the team to this day,” Williams said of Conley, whom the team honors with the #Remember3 hashtag. “He’s always in our prayers.”

Hornsby completed nearly 60 percent of his throws for a solid 1,969 yards and 23 touchdowns with just two interceptions. And as for being a dual-threat, he additionally tacked on 772 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

The University of North Carolina originally had a commitment from Hornsby, but he de-committed from the Tar Heels a few weeks ago. Sure enough, many colleges will deploy scouts to Mercer Stadium in Sugar Land to watch him weave his magic.

Aside from a prolific offense that also stars highly sought-after wide receiver Devon Achane, Williams looks forward “to a great defense.”

“Our front six is one of the best we had since I’ve been here,” he said.

Williams added that Marshall wants to “finish what we started” in the championship game loss to perennial 5A powerhouse Aledo High more than six months ago. With Hornsby in the mix, the sky is the limit for the Buffalos.

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