MIAMI - The scene in the rearview mirror is less than appealing. "I don't have anything to go back to,'' Marques Colston said. But a few days before Super Bowl XLIV he is contemplating the future.
His university's football team no longer exists. Hofstra, where he developed the skills that elevated him into the pros and with the New Orleans Saints into the NFL's biggest game, gave up the ghost and the sport.
So Colston becomes the answer to a trivia question: Who was the last player from Hofstra taken in the NFL draft?
That was in 2006, the seventh round, as a supplemental compensatory pick, a position almost guaranteeing the wide receiver would not stick with the Saints. But he did, and started Week 1 of his first season.
"What I had to do,'' Colston said, "was take advantage of the opportunity I had by getting to camp. I took that approach and it worked out for me.''
Better than anyone might imagine. The Saints traded Donte Stallworth before the '06 season opener. Colston was named to replace him. Some replacement. Colston had 70 receptions for 1,038 yards and finished in a tie with Maurice Jones-Drew, behind Vince Young, as Offensive Rookie of the Year.
He is nicknamed The Quiet Storm for an unpretentious style that runs counter to that of many receivers. "That's just my nature,'' Colston said. "I just like to go out and handle my business, and do what I'm supposed to do. It just so happens that this is the biggest stage probably in the world that day. Hopefully, people will get the opportunity to see what I can do.''
The Jets trained for years at Hofstra, leaving for a new facility in Florham Park, N.J., before the 2009 season. Undergraduate football followed, the school deciding low attendance (4,260 average last season) and high costs were an unacceptable combination.
"It definitely hurt a bit,'' Colston said of the termination. "But when I was there we kind of saw the writing on the wall. There wasn't a whole lot of support . . . My initial thoughts were to the players. I found out they could transfer and play right away or stay on scholarship. That kind of put me at ease.
"But I used to go back the past few summers and work out with some of the guys. That's over.''
It was Hofstra, said Colston, that allowed the personal development he might not have achieved at a larger program.
"I wasn't very big, 175 pounds or so, and not very polished,'' recalled Colston about graduating from Susquehanna Township High in Harrisburg, Pa. "Hofstra offered me the opportunity to grow at the rate I needed to grow. If I had gone to a larger school I might have gotten lost in the shuffle.''
Now 6-4, 225 pounds, Colston believes he will create favorable matchups in the Super Bowl. "I see myself,'' Colston said, "as a guy who can be open even when I'm not open.''