Martin walks on with Rose Bowl champions
Who’s the newest member of the Badger family?
That would be South Tahoe High senior football player Corey Martin. Martin, an all-state and all-league tight end, has been accepted at the University of Wisconsin and will walk on for the defending Rose Bowl and Big Ten champions.
The decision came following months of deliberation for the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Martin, who was coveted by the Nevada Wolf Pack.
“It’s relieving to have that kind of stuff out of the way, so I can begin working on where I want to be in a couple of years,” Martin said. “I figured I worked so hard to make it to a big school that I had to go for it. In my mind I couldn’t pass it up because I’d always look back and wonder what would have happened.
“It’s just another step. The one thing I love more than anything in life is playing football. If I do it, I should do it to the best of my abilities and then some.”
His high school coach Tim Jaureguito is proud of Martin, but he believes a smaller school would have served him better.
“I wish him the best of luck and I hope he gets the opportunity to play. It’s a major college program with athletes with great size and speed. It’s going to take a great effort on his part, No. 1, to make the team and, No. 2, get the opportunity to play down the road,” Jaureguito said.
Wisconsin coaches are away from their offices until Thursday and unavailable for comment.
Jaureguito says that he has coached few players with the heart and determination that Martin demonstrates in practice and games.
“He’s worked so hard. He puts every bit of his effort into it and I know he’ll go to Wisconsin and give it everything he’s got,” Jaureguito said.
Martin only has to look a few miles across the state line for inspiration.
Linebacker Mike Crawford, a George Whittell High grad, walked on at Nevada and began his Pack career as a 13th-string tight end and field goal retriever in practice. Through hard work and determination, Crawford became a first-team and second-team All-Big West linebacker during his final two years and has gone on to the NFL to play for the Miami Dolphins.
“The things he accomplished are really amazing, and I hope I can do the same,” Martin said.
Martin had also been accepted at Nevada, Oregon State and Fresno State. All three schools wanted him to join their teams as a walk-on.
“(Pack coach Jeff) Tisdel was calling weekly. I think they were going to use him as an outside linebacker or defensive end,” Jaureguito said. “The Big West is not the best Division I conference in the country, but it’s major college football and they do schedule Pac-10 teams. I thought he had the opportunity to go there as badly as they wanted him and get playing time soon.”
Forces working against Martin going to such a major college power is his size and speed. He’s giving up at least 50 to 70 pounds per man and several inches. He believes he can reduce some of those disadvantages by redshirting.
“I want to go there and play. I just don’t want to be another number on the team. I think I can do it, whether other people say I can, I think I can work toward it,” Martin said. “Personally, I feel I can earn a scholarship. They have some great athletes and really big kids. I’m a little lighter than most of their recruits this year, but I’m a little taller. I feel pretty confident that I can put on some weight and work on improving my speed.”
If Miller’s size doesn’t change drastically, Jaureguito foresees his prize player being used as an outside linebacker or a defensive end who drops back into pass coverage.
“Size-wise, he’s not going to play up front on offense or defense, so he will have to be in some type of situation where he drops back and figures into the secondary scheme,” Jaureguito said.
Jaureguito, however, does believe Martin can benefit Wisconsin on special teams early in his career.
“They’ll see how hard-nosed he is and special teams are going to be a natural place for him to start. He fits well into that,” Jaureguito said.
In the meantime, Martin is looking forward to his redshirt season.
“It will be an honor for me to play on the scout teams against (260-pound back) Ron Dayne, especially since he’s going for such a huge honor, the Heisman trophy,” Martin said.
Wisconsin alums Dick Schwarte and Bob Novasel of South Lake Tahoe were instrumental in making the Badger coaches aware of Martin’s ability. Martin feels indebted to them.
“If it wasn’t for them, Wisconsin wouldn’t have been in the picture,” he said.
Last season, Wisconsin won 11 of 12 games, including a 38-31 victory over UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Because of that success, Wisconsin is expecting more walk-ons than usual.
“We usually have a dozen, but this year we’re expecting a little more because of the Rose Bowl win,” said Joe Fredman, a student assistant in the Wisconsin Sports Information Office.
Like Martin, they know that the Badgers are one of the best college football families in the land nowadays.
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