By Griffin Fabits
Former Arizona Wildcats linebacker Marquis Flowers was honored October 12 when his alma mater, Millennium High School in Goodyear, retired his jersey during the Tigers’ cross-town rival game versus Agua Fria.
At halftime, the 2010 Millennium High School graduate was honored on the field, joined by his family, friends and former teammates.
Coming out of high school, Flowers was Arizona’s top recruit and the No. 7 safety in the nation, according to reports. He was recruited by ASU, UA, Notre Dame, UCLA and USC, but he chose Tucson over Tempe, a sweet choice for Wildcats fans.
“I was young,” Flowers says. “It was a huge decision and it felt right. I’d do it all over again because it felt right. The vibe I had when I went down there wasn’t about what they were going to give me, I had to earn everything.
“It was perfect. It allowed me to be on my own. It allowed me to grow into a man. It was a tough decision, but it was the right decision.”
Over his four seasons at UA, in 50 collegiate games, Flowers registered 273 tackles, 7.5 sacks and five interceptions. In a 2012 New Mexico Bowl win against Nevada, Flowers received the defensive Most Valuable Player honors for recording an interception and an onside kick recovery in the waning seconds of the game.
Leading up to Flowers’ commitment, the Wildcats played mundane football. There was a stretch of three consecutive bowl games from 2008 to 2010, but prior to that, its last winning season came in the fall of 1998.
It would seem to be a turnoff for a top recruit, but Flowers relished that. Why? He wanted to take the Wildcats to the Rose Bowl, something the team had not achieved.
“What really intrigued me is – and I’m different – was the fact that Arizona had never been to a Rose Bowl and I wanted to be a part of the first Rose Bowl team. That was the goal,” he says.
Though Flowers failed to reach that goal, he’s gone on to play five seasons in the NFL. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. He spent two seasons with the Bengals before signing with the New England Patriots in 2017. He helped the Patriots reach Super Bowl LII versus the Philadelphia Eagles with his 3.5 sacks on the season and tied for fourth-best on his team.
The 26-year-old Flowers played with the Detroit Lions for five games in 2018 before he was released in mid-October. He’s appreciative for everything his career has given him.
“It’s awesome, man,” Flowers says of the jersey retirement. “I appreciate it. It’s an honor to come back to your high school. I just tried to get as many teammates I played with, friends, family and coaches. That’s what it’s all about, just getting everybody back together again.”