Nobody can ever accuse Tate Martell of lacking confidence or a competitive nature. As a quarterback who went 45-0 in high school at Bishop Gorman, that goes with the territory.
Following the first practice of spring camp, Urban Meyer met with the media and when the quarterbacks were brought up, he eventually got to Martell.
“Tate Martell thinks he’s playing, don’t no one tell him he’s not going to play,” he said.
As the first spring camp usually does to true freshmen, however, it catches up to them, and Martell was no different.
“I wish you could ask him how his first two days went,” J.T. Barrett chuckled after the second spring practice. “It’s not Bishop Gorman, that’s for sure.”
Two practices later, quarterbacks coach Ryan Day talked about each of the players in his room, and when he got to Martell he gave a simple and almost cautious answer.
“Tate is just kind of getting his feet in the ground,” he said. “Really talented in a different way.”
Less than a week after that fourth practice, however, is when the weekly Saturday scrimmages began. It was in those scrimmages where Martell finally began looking like himself again. Meyer called Martell’s performance in the second scrimmage the best day he has had in the entire camp.
For some freshmen, fading in their first spring camp is inevitable. Martell still has some camp left, but for now he is even impressing those on the other side of the ball, and his improving play is no longer confined to scrimmages.
“Tate is giving us a really good look on scout,” defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones said on Thursday. “I don’t know how he does it being only 5-10, 5-3, whatever, but he’s done a good job.”
How does he do it? Defensive line coach Larry Johnson has a pretty good idea. While most will look at Martell and only see his height — Ohio State lists him at 5-foot-11, which might be on the generous side — Johnson is much more interested in the things that cannot be measured.
“Absolutely quick,” Johnson said of Martell. “Tough. Runner. He’ll hang in the pocket, he’ll throw the ball. He’s a competitor now. He’s a guy that you can’t count out because he can run, he can throw the ball, and I like his attitude.”
And as for his height, which will always be a topic of conversation?
“Doug Flutie was 5-10 and he had a great career,” Johnson said. “Coach Day has done a great job with him, and he’s young, so he’s got time.”