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2024 Montana Football HOF profile: Marc Mariani, state tennis champ to NFL Pro Bowl

Marc Mariani Titans
Posted at 12:56 PM, Jun 21, 2024

BILLINGS — The Montana Football Hall of Fame’s six newest members will be all buttoned up in Billings Saturday at their induction ceremony. That includes one former player who vaulted from college walk-on to the NFL Pro Bowl.

Havre’s Marc Mariani is the guy who was told throughout his athletic career that he was too small. Yet he impacted every sport he touched in high school from basketball to football — and most likely don’t know he was even a state tennis champion winning a doubles title with teammate Gary Wagner. He actually earned more varsity letters in tennis, four, than in football and hoops where he earned three apiece.

Mariani’s bread and butter, though, was clearly on the gridiron, and there wasn’t a pass he wouldn’t lay out for. An all-state receiver and defensive back for the state champion Blue Ponies in 2004, he’d go on to join the Montana Grizzlies a year later as a non-preferred walk-on. Must’ve been too small.

Marianai played in all 14 Griz games as a redshirt freshman on special teams before earning kick return and punt return duties as a sophomore. Then he turned into an offensive starter his junior and senior seasons and played a key role in UM reaching national title games in both 2008 and 2009.

Mariani finished his Griz career with school records in receiving yards (3,018), receiving touchdowns (29) and all-purpose yards (5,441).

Then he arrived at the NFL. The Tennessee Titans drafted Mariani 222nd overall in 2010. As a rookie he was selected to the Pro Bowl after setting franchise records in both kick returns and yards. Mariani would play seven years in the NFL, five with the Titans and two with the Chicago Bears. The guy who wasn’t big enough out of Havre, Montana, finish his NFL career with over 5,000 return yards and 27 catches.

Mariani now lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.

The Montana Football Hall of Fame ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on June 22 at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center.