2017 Recruiting: Oliver Martin Comment Count

Brian July 31st, 2017 at 4:23 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S J'Marick Woods, S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, S Brad Hawkins, CB Ambry Thomas, CB Benjamin St-Juste, LB Drew Singleton, LB Jordan Anthony, LB Josh Ross, DE Kwity Paye, DE Luiji Vilain, DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, DE Deron Irving-Bey, DT Donovan Jeter, DT Phil Paea, DT James Hudson, DT Aubrey Solomon, C Cesar Ruiz, OT JaRaymond Hall, OT Joel Honigford, OT Andrew Stueber, OT Chuck Filiaga.

Iowa City, IA – 6'1", 190


Scout 4*, #216 overall
#31 WR
Rivals 4*, #206 overall
#35 WR, #1 IA
ESPN 4*, NR overall
#60 WR, #3 IA
24/7 4*, #47 overall
#7 WR, #1 IA
Other Suitors ND, MSU, Iowa, UO, OSU, UF
YMRMFSPA Austin Carr
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter.



Opening one on one reps at :12, 3:03, and 4:11:



One of the great Michigan traditions is yoinking every four star wide receiver out of Iowa, and in that Oliver Martin follows in the footsteps of Amara Darboh and Adrian Arrington. Unlike those two, he burst out of nowhere to do so. Martin was one of those guys without a picture on his profile when he showed up at an Opening regional, won the receiver MVP, and impressed the coaches there enough to get an invite to the big show. This was the state of his recruitment at the time:

In a wide receiver group with more high profile guys, Martin earned MVP with his excellent route-running and sure hands. Toledo, CMU, WMU and EMU have offered.

Things changed a bit afterwards.

Martin started picking up midlevel Power 5 offers in the interim and then heavy hitters came in when he lit some dudes up at the Opening itself. Michigan offered during the event more or less because Dylan McCaffrey and friends insisted on it:

This isn’t a kid that the Wolverines were heavily involved with before The Opening, but they are now. Thanks to some not-so subtle suggestions from the Michigan commits at The Opening, the Maize & Blue offered Martin a scholarship Sunday night.

His Hypercool teammates weren't the only folks to have their socks knocked off by the lanky kid out of Iowa. I summon the bulleted list to explain:

  • Allen Trieu, Scout: "great route runner with sure hands … consistently made catches in traffic … attention to detail and technical route-running separated him in the eyes of coaches." Also: "some of the surest hands in the Midwest."
  • 24/7: "so smooth and effortless as a  route-runner … great hands .. extremely strong. A quarterback's best friend."
  • Sam Webb, Scout: "just gets open … works the slot with the precision of a New England Patriot…combination of size, speed, quickness, and route running from the slot was tough to stop. …picture Grant Perry, but bigger, stronger, faster, and with more shake."
  • Trey Scott, 24/7: "…simply one of the best players in the entire 7on7 Tournament. … burned guys across the middle, down the field and toward the sidelines on corner routes. … just one drop, but he’s not merely a possession receiver. He made people miss, too … By the end of the weekend, he was the talk of the camp.
  • Matt Prehm, 24/7: "smooth route runner … constantly in the right place at the right time."
  • Tom Loy, 24/7: "…one of the day's true pleasant surprises. … snagged double-digit catches on the day including multiple first downs, a 15-yard touchdown on a corner route, and he shook five-star linebacker Dylan Moses on a quick pass." Also: "…fantastic performances in 7-on-7 play. … one of the top receivers in the country … superb route runner with excellent hands."
  • Barton Simmons, 24/7: "…one of the best receivers in this entire class. He was the steadiest pass catcher of the event. … He's a freaky athlete with a crazy ceiling."

24/7 named him to their dream team and declared him "one of the elite receivers nationally," which they backed up with their steadily-escalating ranking that ended up inside the top 50.

Martin developed a reputation as a technician over the course of his recruitment. So much so that I don't think I've ever seen a wideout evaluation anything like those that follow. Scout's 1,000 foot view:

Very skilled, technical wideout. Excellent route runner with great hands and ability to make catches in traffic. Smart and understands how to get open. Very good athlete with good quickness, leaping ability and body control. Competitive, hard working kid.


…good height and strength … more of a speed builder, not darter. … precise and sharp. Comes off the line with purpose and has an imposing, strong stride to get people to back off him. … some shake to avoid press at the line. … bit rough around the edges on speed cuts and sharp angles. … big, strong hands and can shield defenders from the ball. … reach and strength to pull the ball away from coverage … physically gifted player …very steady and reliable both in the slot and on the outside.

Rivals Oregon reporter Scott Reed:

… very good understanding of route running, setting up defenders, breaking off his route, and coming back to the ball. … variety of release techniques … very sharp on his cuts … very adept at using his hands to grab the ball rather than let the ball come to him and … very good functional speed on film. He frequently pulls away from defenders when he gets into open field and understands angles very well.

Barton Simmons:

“He’s just really crafty in the way he’s able to maneuver his body and track the football. He makes every catch look really easy. He’s also extremely athletic and can get open in a lot of different ways, whether it’s beating you on a route or outrunning you.”

Even the only note amongst dozens that has anything resembling a criticism is largely overwhelmed by "dang":

"Martin can have some issues getting separation when his top end route technique isn’t crisp and when matched up against more athletic defenders, but his route running skills are quite good and will only get better. His ball skills are top notch and he shows good body control, which allows him to make contested catches even when covered tightly. Martin has good vision with the ball in his hands, he can go up and out-play defenders for the ball and he’s a tough kid."

24/7's breakdown of his skills have him rare 10s in "hands" and "ball skills" and a 9 for route running. Evaluations almost always says something like he "just gets open" or he's "as natural a receiver as anyone in the class" or he "always manages to get open," etc. This is usually just before or after "catches everything," "you can't even hear the ball touch his hands," and so forth and so on.

I watched that whole dang set of one on one reps from the Opening and while there are only three from Martin they leap off the tape because he's running actual routes. Most of these guys are running playground stuff guaranteed to get your QB sacked: false steps at the start, double triple quadruple moves, routes that leave the QB baffled as to where he should throw the ball. Martin's reps see him torch guys on corner and slant routes; on the third he hitches up and then drifts away from a guy in good position to make the catch anyway. There is not a wasted step. This is a guy who means business.

Serious business. His coach:

“He’s a very humble player. He’ll never advertise himself. He just goes about his business working incredibly hard. He’s the most athletic and most talented kid I’ve ever coached and most humble hard working kid. What I see is a kid that’s fundamentally as polished as any kid I’ve seen in high school and that’s a credit to him. He works outside of our practice time and training time on his own religiously. His play does the talking."

His skill set alone is impressive for a guy with the athletic ability to run away from just about anyone in his home state. Add in the fact that he was a D-I baseball prospect with Big Ten offers and a college-level swimmer and it gets downright baffling. How can the most polished receiver in the country be a three-sport athlete from Iowa? Either he does not need sleep or he does not need leisure time.

Martin isn't Donovan Peoples-Jones but neither is he (just) a gritty heady gamer. His physical testing at the Opening regional was excellent, with an overall SPARQ of 112 thanks to a 4.6 40, 4.1 shuttle, and 38 inch vert. He'd run in the 4.5 range at the Opening itself and increase his vert to 42 inches, upping his SPARQ to 133. That was 12th nationally, second amongst WRs. DPJ topped out at 149 (as a junior, which is why he's a five star).

Evaluations consistently mention his ability to run by you. In addition to the above, "fine athlete with quicks and leaping ability"; "very explosive and very fast … can run strong, vertical routes"; "outstanding athleticism." At some point during Martin's career—possibly all points—a man on television will credit his success to the fact that he's a gym rat film maven. This will be correct, and also incorrect. Martin isn't a 4.3 guy, but that's about the only criticism you can level.

Despite the basically recruitment-cycle-long surge, Martin still seems underrated. The last piece of the puzzle is on-field production, and Martin had that in spades:         

…caught 85 passes for 1,272 yards and 14 touchdowns this past season, leading the Trojans to a 10-3 record and the Class 4A state final. Martin also averaged 26.1 yards per kickoff return and 18.8 yards per punt return.

As a junior he had 72 catches for 1200 yards.

And yet only 24/7 is over the moon about him. I get why. Martin played in Iowa and had no profile before his breakout. ESPN executed a fire and forget after the Opening, and Rivals skipped that camp, only cottoning on at the Army game. He is technical, athletic, good sized, and productive. He did all this without an exclusive focus on football. I don't know what more you want from a prospect inside the top 100, and side with the 24/7 ranking and expectations:

Wherever Martin goes, he's going to be one of the most productive players in that school's history. That's how highly I think of Martin and his skillset.

In the history of these posts Martin is the highest floor WR prospect. And he's got a high ceiling.

Etc.: Got divorced from Halle Berry recently. Sister just missed the Olympic team as a swimmer. Namesake of a very large gold nugget. Got Harbaugh to jump in a pool fully clothed. Teaches you how to do a Katana. Also provided an opportunity for Harbaugh to reconnect with… the guy who hit him with a car when he was six?

Half these things are true!

Why Austin Carr? The Northwestern wide receiver broke out as a jumbo slot last year with a whopping 90 catches. He's a y-cross merchant who has the quicks and route precision to play in the slot but at 6'1", like Martin, he's still a reasonably sized downfield target with sticky hands. He signed with the—yep—Patriots, where he's impressing. NFL.com:

"Touch it, catch it" target. Able to make the combat catches in traffic. … Uses good positioning and leverage in his routes. Finds optimal space in zones when working underneath. … big slot receiver who is best left to working on the first and second levels in routes that are more fluid and less angular.

Martin is a much bigger deal than the former walk-on and brings a lot more athleticism to the table. Both guys are slots who can get after safeties and linebackers downfield, not screen merchants.

As Webb mentioned above, route artisan Grant Perry is another comparable. A third: Drew Dileo after getting bitten by a radioactive spider. He's like all these guys, but fast! A fast version of these guys: former OSU WR Anthony Gonzalez, who was a bigger slot who found a home in the first round of the NFL draft.

Guru Reliability: High-minus. Martin showed out at both the Opening and the Army game and gets universally consistent scouting reports. Big spread from top 50 player to generic four star.

Variance: Very low. If Martin stays healthy he will be a productive contributor. He has the size, speed, and route chops already.

Ceiling: Very high. Martin isn't enormous and he's not DPJ but he's an A+ technical WR with an A- physical package. 

General Excitement Level: Very high. Martin is going to be excellent, the end. 

Projection: Figuring out what will happen with the receivers this year is difficult. Black and DPJ enrolled early and were extremely impressive. Martin is the most polished guy in the country and should be instantly useful. Collins should be a redzone weapon immediately. All could play, but I'd imagine you want at least one redshirt just to space things out a little.

You could make an argument for Martin being the redshirt because there appears to be a ton ahead of him at slot, his most natural position: Grant Perry, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, and Nate Schoenle are all available and (sort of) experienced. You could make an argument that he should play because Michigan needs to roll all the available dice to see which guys hit in a year when they have next to no production returning.

Martin likely plays early, and on the outside given that slot depth. Michigan does not yet have a set two deep at outside WR and there will be room for a fourth guy to contribute. My money is on Martin over the veteran challengers. Also don't sleep on him as a punt returner.



July 31st, 2017 at 4:38 PM ^

he'll be a gritty blue-collar, bring your lunch pail kinda kid. All the intangibles and he's a scrappy, high motor gamer. Gritty, high-IQ, Wes Welker type with good fundamentals and deceptive speed.


July 31st, 2017 at 4:39 PM ^

This whole class is getting a High to Very High on Excitement Level and Ceiling. I hope this is all true because if so, the next few years are going to be turr-ific


July 31st, 2017 at 4:46 PM ^

Does he also play classical piano, solve a rubik's cube in under 2 minutes, and excel at Chess?

It's really hard to think he's going to be the RS WR from this class based on what is written above. The thing is, there's no good option for a easy RS to choose from the Big 4 WR's. Oh man what a good problem to have!


July 31st, 2017 at 4:53 PM ^

Along with YMRMFSPA to show the highest possible upside of a player. I say this mainly because through the entire recruiting cycle I could only think of Martin as senior Drew Dileo, except faster and taller.


I also wouldn't be opposed to ranking the excitement level on a 10-26 scale of number of beverages Fred Jackson has at any given time.

Lou MacAdoo

July 31st, 2017 at 5:00 PM ^

I'm looking forward to seeing Oliver become the next Fred Biletnikoff, err that's right were not supposed to do that, I meant Jerry Rice. He's more than just a slot ninja (shooter). 

Also, watching these camp videos gives me more respect for what a cornerback can do. It's just unreal the anticipation, reaction, and athletic ability needed to excel at the position. I tried to play it once in flag football when we were short players and it didn't go well. I'm more of a linebacker/tight end type and the kid I was going up against knew what he was doing. He set me up and burnt me all game.


July 31st, 2017 at 4:58 PM ^

This year's WR haul is bananas. Hard to believe Martin was almost an afterthought at the end of the recruiting cycle... I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up the most productive WR from the class.


July 31st, 2017 at 5:02 PM ^

having 4 WR sets this year, I don't think you can keep him off the field. I think he will challenge Perry for the starting slot job this year. If he would've enrolled early I would've given him a great shot of starting in the slot. See what he can do over the next month.


July 31st, 2017 at 5:24 PM ^

It seems like the most natural fit for a redshirt out of this WR group would be Collins. His biggest asset as a jump ball guy and redzone threat is something we have quite a few more experienced options at. DPJ and Black have that head start and have impressed. So if it is between more of a jump ball specialist and the most polished HS WR ever for a redshirt... well.

Mr Miggle

August 1st, 2017 at 7:58 AM ^

outcome is that none of them redshirt. Harbaugh does not seem to be a fan of strategic redshirting and I have the feeling Collins is going to be too good for him to sit. Logjams work themselves out and we probably only take 1 WR in 2018.


July 31st, 2017 at 5:29 PM ^

are Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Hunter Renfro, maybe Danny Amendola. Real gritty coaches daughters' brother imo. Probably eats out of a lunchpail shaped like a football so he literally eats sleeps and breathes it. Very deceptive speed.


July 31st, 2017 at 6:23 PM ^

...I could totally figure out he was white from the post.  I mean, Brian went so far as to find his YMRMFSPA from another team (has that happened before) because he was white.


July 31st, 2017 at 6:52 PM ^

needs full year of football strength training before he should take B1G level hits. Swimming and baseball off seasons do not project body-ready 18 year old getting hit by the likes of a Devin Bush missile.


July 31st, 2017 at 8:09 PM ^

and Nico is an imposing dude with his height and agility in that Opening clip.

These guys are two levels of development/skill above Hoke's recruits - teach them the playbook and put them on the field.