(For more coverage, see sports section.)
Former Havre High School and University of Montana standout Marc Mariani has had plenty of great days in his football career. With what he's achieved in both high school and college, he's had almost too many to count.
But Saturday in Nashville, Tenn., turned out to be one of the best days of Mariani's young career as he found out he's made the Tennessee Titans' 53-man roster for the 2010 season.
It's not easy for a rookie seventh-round draft pick from any school to come in and make an NFL roster his first time out, let alone to do it coming from a Football Championship Subdivision school like Montana. But Mariani, through hard work and determination, has always been one to buck the odds and rise to any challenge, and all of that paid off yet again on Saturday.
"It feels great, it's very gratifying," Mariani said. "It's been a long, hard road, and it's taken a lot of hard work, and it's really gratifying that all of it has paid off. I just feel so blessed and so fortunate to have this opportunity."
Mariani, a two-time FCS All-American and three-time All Big Sky Conference performer, led the NFL with over 400 all-purpose yards during the preseason. He was key in the return game and will continue to battle for the starting return job. He also caught seven passes and led all Tennessee receivers in yards per catch in four exhibition games.
Mariani's value to the Titans also comes in the area of special teams. He spent the exhibition season covering kicks and punts and had seven total tackles, and now he looks forward to getting more opportunities to help the Titans win the games that count.
"It's a great opportunity. It's a dream come true," Mariani said. "And I'm going to continue to work hard and continue to get better each and every day because now it's for real. And I'm excited to get out there and strap it up on Sundays and do anything I can to help this team win football games."
The Titans open the season Sunday against Oakland in Nashville.
See today's page A6 for more coverage.