Michigan reeled in one of their top remaining targets when four-star Iowa City (IA) West WR Oliver Martin announced his commitment on 247Sports, going public with a decision he'd already made.
Iowa City (Iowa) West Top247 receiver Oliver Martin was soaking wet.
Martin’s little sister Ruby, a world-class swimmer was in the pool getting her workout in as family surrounded the four-star recruit as he made the decision to play for the Maize and Blue.
Martin choose the Wolverines over Michigan State and Notre Dame, among many others.
The Spartans were, in fact, Martin's first major offer, getting in on him before he blew up at The Opening finals. Martin appeared destined to go to Michigan once they offered and began serious pursuit, then looked headed to South Bend when it appeared Nico Collins would take the last WR spot. Michigan rekindled interest as Collins looked more likely to stay in the South. At one point recently, 247's Steve Lorenz reported the coaching staffs at Michigan, MSU, and ND all believed they would land Martin. In-state Iowa was hanging around. Ohio State briefly emerged as a threat after Tyjon Lindsay's decommitment but Martin never made his planned official visit there.
After visits from Jim Harbaugh, the guy who once hit Jim Harbaugh with a mail truck, and Pep Hamilton, as well as a final trip to Ann Arbor, Martin decided to join the 2017 class. He's the 27th commit in the class and the fourth at receiver, joining Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, and Brad Hawkins. With the way his recruitment is trending, Michigan may very well add Collins to that number, too. They haven't had a better group of receivers in one class in recent memory.
4*, #30 WR,
4*, #35 WR,
|4*, 80, #60 WR||
4*, 97, #7 WR,
4*, #28 WR,
Martin was a relative unknown on the recruiting trail until a breakout performance at The Opening last summer, which took him from a three-star to a nationally ranked prospect in most places. Scout and Rivals settled on ranking him ~200th overall and there's an outlier on each side. ESPN has him as a four-star but well outside their top 300 (the last WR to make the cut is 41st in the position rankings), while 247 shot him into the top 100 after The Opening and moved him up again after the Army Bowl.
Martin is listed at 6'1" (or 6'0.5" in 247's case) and 185-192 pounds on all four sites. While he's generally regarded as a slot, he could play inside or outside in college.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, impact on the class, and more.]
While Martin got passing mention from a couple scouts who passed through Iowa as an underclassman, he stayed off the recruiting radar almost entirely until after his junior season. Scout's Allen Trieu, one of the aforementioned scouts, had high praise for Martin after seeing him earn position MVP honors and a spot in the Opening finals at the Chicago regional last May:
The wide receiver MVP was Oliver Martin, a very skilled prospect who measured in just under 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds, a little bigger than we expected. He's a great route-runner and has some of the surest hands in the Midwest. He holds a handful of MAC offers, but this summer is when he will have a chance to impress Big Ten and Big 12 schools enough to earn offers from them.
Martin got everyone's attention at the finals, where he tested very well in the combine drills (see 40 time section) and was one of the most productive receivers in the 7-on-7 portion. Catches like this—incidentally, from Dylan McCaffrey, Martin's 7-on-7 QB for the event—are rather hard to ignore:
— Matt Prehm (@Prehmmr247) July 10, 2016
I’m really thankful that I got a chance to see Martin this week because without his performance in Oregon, I don't think I would realize that he's one of the best receivers in this entire class. He was the steadiest pass catcher of the event. He worked out of the slot and motioned out of the backfield. His coaches were scheming to get him touches because they knew they could count on him to make plays.
Martin isn't just a productive pass catcher though. He's a freaky athlete with a crazy ceiling. Only 12 athletes at the entire event had better testing numbers than Martin. He's also a major league baseball prospect that will only get better when his summer isn't devoted to the diamond.
Trieu named him one of the top Midwest risers, saying he "showed he belonged with the best in the country." Rise he did: Scout moved him inside the Scout300 from high three-star status, while 247 went even further, debuting Martin at #67 in the Top247.
Martin continued to rise up Scout's rankings with a strong senior season. While there isn't an in-game scouting report on any of the sides, Adam found a full game of Martin's on YouTube and broke it down for a Future Blue Derivatives post that will go up tomorrow. Here's the video—Martin is #8 in green, wearing the knee-high white socks:
Here's a sample of Adam's scouting report, which will be posted in full tomorrow:
As I look through my notes, the thing that came up most often was what a great route runner Martin is. His double moves threw off defenders and he did an excellent job getting in and out of his breaks. At 1:32 he breaks down as if he’s going to run an out, then takes off on a fly route. He does the same thing at 3:26 and again leaves the corner a step behind. He runs a great curl at 3:58, but the throw was so late that the corner had time to get a hand in front and break it up. If you’re into crisp cuts, check out the routes he runs at 4:11, 4:22 (ouch), and 6:42 (in which he leaves a safety miles away).
The tired stereotype of a receiver who runs his routes with precisions includes the implicit assumption that he has cultivated that set of skills because he isn’t fast enough to just fly by the opposition; that’s not true for Martin. The best example of Martin at top speed is at the 2:00 mark, where the defender has outside leverage on Martin and can do nothing more than watch him speed past. He does it again at 4:51, this time getting inside both the corner and safety.
Martin also showed off his wheels on a kickoff return for a touchdown; Adam thought his blocking was serviceable with room for improvement.
At the Army All-American Bowl, Martin proved once again that he belongs with the top prospects in the country. Barton Simmons raved about him again, providing evocative scouting reports while naming Martin a top performer on day one and day two:
Don't sleep on Martin because the second he catches you snoozing he's past you for a deep touchdown. That's because Martin runs great routes, he's has outstanding athleticism and he catches everything.
Martin found the end zone on a Tate Martell pass during the 7on7 period and he was sharp throughout the one-on-ones too. You can't even hear the ball touch his hands when he catches it. He's just a natural.
That's one of my favorite scouting notes ever. While comparing Army Bowl players to participants in the national title game, Simmons made a very intriguing comp for Martin, choosing Clemson WR Artavis Scott:
Martin is a little bit of a bigger body than Scott and perhaps has an even more versatile guy but I think that production is what is going to be most similar. 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. Like Scott, he's probably going to do it quietly, without saying much but look up at the end of three years and he's going to be in the record books.
“Martin has one of the Midwest's hottest recruitments going right now, with Iowa, Michigan State and Notre Dame battling, but he took a break from the decision-making process to put on a good show at the Army Bowl. Martin catches everything thrown his way, and it is thrown his way often because he always manages to get open.” - Helmholdt
247 also gave Martin a healthy boost in the final rankings, moving him from #70 to #47 overall—a 23-spot jump is substantial when you get that high on the list.
The Wolverine's Brandon Brown interviewed local Iowa reporter Matthew Bain about Martin and got a glowing, detailed scouting report:
"His Nike+ Football ratings (133.02) were off the charts for all of his physical talents — his vertical, his speed, his 40, all of that," Bain explained. "To me, his two best talents are his route running and his hands. That's just raw, natural receiver talent. When Oliver catches the ball you don’t even hear it. It’s ridiculous how good of hands he has.
"The separation he creates in the air with his vertical and with his strength, getting those smaller DB’s off of him, and then you put that with his speed to be able to break away from DB's, and then you put that with his hands, which I think are better than anything … Before I moved to Iowa I covered preps in southern California, and I’ve seen some in Phoenix as well, and then in Iowa, and he’s the best receiver prospect I’ve ever seen."
Even relative skeptic ESPN, which seems to have fired off this report before Martin's recruitment took off, has a very intriguing evaluation:
Pretty precise and sharp. Comes off the line with purpose and has an imposing, strong stride to get people to back off him. Displays adequate quickness and some shake to avoid press at the line. Uses arm length and strength to win downfield if he doesn't have a step. Is a bit rough around the edges on speed cuts and sharp angles. Better vertically.
Grows on you the more you watch him. Not always flashy or explosively sudden in his movements. More of a slashing, powerful player with the ball in his hands. Has some short area burst and good feet, but not overly loose through the hips. Stands out against this level of competition. Has shown flashes of being a homerun threat if he gets a crease and can win footraces on a straight-line, but has to gear down some and gather when putting moves together.
They thought he'd get "regional middle tier power five attention." Martin obviously surpassed those expectations in his senior year. Scout's free eval does a better job of bringing us to the present:
EvaluationVery 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. At 6-foot-1, 188 pounds, he has good size, but is not as big in comparison to other top outside receivers.
- Hands and Concentration
- Quickness off Line
- Route-Running Skills
Areas to Improve
You get the gist: Martin is a technician with plenty of athletic upside. The only thing he lacks is imposing size, and he's not exactly small, either. He should be a very productive slot receiver with the ability to play on the outside, and it may not be too long before we see him on the field.
Martin, who held only a few MAC offers in the spring before his senior season, finished with an offer list that included Auburn, BYU, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, and Wisconsin, among others.
According to the Rivals database, which dates back to 2002, Martin is the first Iowa City West player to earn a four-star ranking. The four three-stars who preceded him all stayed in-state at either Iowa State or Northern Iowa.
Martin had a very productive high school career, as chronicled on his 247 page:
He was also a standout safety for Iowa City West, but he should wind up on offense at Michigan.
FAKE 40 TIME
Martin posted one of the best SPARQ ratings of any receiver in this class after posting a 4.57-second 40-yard dash, 4.15-second shuttle, 41.6-inch vertical, and 41.0-foot powerball throw for a total score of 133.02. He's more explosive in a straight line than agile, but he's an excellent overall athlete. That 4.57 is an electronic time and therefore gets zero FAKEs.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Since Martin is probably going to play primarily in the slot, he has a tougher path to the field than Black, Hawkins, and Peoples-Jones, who project as outside receivers on a team in need of them. Martin will have to compete for snaps with Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, possibly Kekoa Crawford, and maybe Grant Perry too if his legal issues are resolved in a way that gets him back on the team.
While Martin will probably play a reserve role as a freshman, it's hard not to see him pushing his way onto the field in a bigger role before too long.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
With three-star DB Ifeatu Melifonwu reportedly reaffirming to Syracuse, Michigan's board is quite small at the moment. Sam Webb believes there are 3-4 spots remaining with Martin in the fold. The best bets to join the class among the remaining targets are five-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon and four-star AL WR Nico Collins. Four-star MS OLB Willie Gay and three-star VA OT Mekhi Becton look like longer shots, though the Wolverines aren't out of the picture for either. I believe all four are expected to be Signing Day decisions at this point, so we'll find out how M's class finishes out on Wednesday.
The strong possibility of landing Collins, in conjunction with the news that it's unlikely M adds another defensive back, means there's a good chance one of the receivers in this class winds up at safety. Brad Hawkins is the most likely candidate, though it's worth noting Martin has some pretty good film at free safety.
Here's the class as it currently stands: