For a guy who has never played a snap in a college football game, Tate Martell has a surprisingly long and eventful history in the sport.
He started receiving Division 1 scholarship offers in middle school, and first committed to a Power 5 program in eighth grade, pledging his services to the Washington Huskies.
He decommitted from UW, then spent about nine months as a Texas A&M commit, before finally deciding on Ohio State.
He was named a second-team all-American following his sophomore year of high school, behind only future UCLA standout Josh Rosen and Washington star Jake Browning.
Browning is now heading into his fourth year as the Huskies’ starter with more than 9,000 collegiate passing yards and 78 touchdowns to his name, and Rosen is about a month away from being selected near the top of the NFL Draft.
Martell, meanwhile, is also waiting to hear whether he will be picked. But instead of “Browns or Jets,” in his case it’s “starter or backup.”
Martell has nearly 90,000 Twitter followers, and a Google News search for “Tate Martell” returns more than 6,000 articles.
It’s a little strange that a guy who has been part of the national college football conversation for close to six years could still be waiting to see his first real action.
For Martell, it’s just exciting to finally have a chance to prove that he’s worth all that hype.
“That’s a huge difference, at least for me, going out there and feeling like now I’m going out there to actually play for something,” Martell said. “I want to be on the field.”
The redshirt freshman spent a lot of time on the practice field in the fall of 2017, drawing glowing reviews from Buckeye coaches and defensive players for his work on the scout team. Several times during the fall, older OSU players mentioned his elusiveness and playmaking ability.
“Going out there and doing scout team, I had a good time doing that, because I was going against the best guys every day,” Martell said. “But now I’m actually going out there to win the job. That’s what I came here for.”
While he came to Ohio State to win the starting quarterback job, Martell admits he really wasn’t ready for it last fall. Now, with a year of experience under his belt, that has all changed.
“I actually know what I’m doing out there now instead of just using straight athletic ability out there,” he said. “I know all my checks now. I can go through and check any play.
“I know all the stuff which is a huge difference from last year. I was just going out there, half the time I’d guess what the signal was that I got in. It’s a lot better this year than it was last year.”
The three weeks leading up to the Spring Game on April 14 could play a big role in deciding not only whether Martell, Joe Burrow, or Dwayne Haskins takes the first snaps of the season, but just how far the 2018 Buckeyes could go.
“You’ve got to go out there and do your best and they’ve got to play the best player if you want to win a national championship,” Martell said. “We’ll see who it is.”