Martinez says he evolved as a QB dur­ing tough first sea­son

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY AN­THONY GALAVIZ [email protected]­nobee.com

A year ago, Adrian Martinez was leav­ing Clo­vis West High and mov­ing half a coun­try away to play foot­ball at Ne­braska.

It might’ve taken awhile for him to ap­pre­ci­ate the grav­ity, es­pe­cially since the Huskers’ orig­i­nal sea­son-opener against Akron on La­bor Day week­end was scrapped be­cause of weather.

But when his time came .... “It was re­ally sur­real when you run out that tun­nel, there’s 90,000 fans, scream­ing and ready to go and Colorado was on the other end of the field and you re­al­ize it’s big-time col­lege foot­ball,” Martinez said.

“It’s been pretty crazy, just go­ing out there know­ing it’s part of my dream to make this mo­ment hap­pen that I was fi­nally there. Just prob­a­bly that first touch­down play I had I knew I be­long. I feel like I can play at that level and ex­cel at that level and from there I was play­ing my game.”

On Mon­day, Martinez was one of 32 play­ers named to the Foot­ball Writ­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica Fresh­man All-Amer­ica Team. He was one of two quar­ter­backs named to the team join­ing Clem­son true fresh­man Trevor Lawrence.

Ne­braska’s first sea­son un­der new coach Scott Frost didn’t got quite like Husker Na­tion would have hoped (4-8), but fans cer­tainly could see a bright fu­ture with Martinez call­ing plays.

“I grew as the sea­son pro­gressed and will take those ex­pe­ri­ences from this year and it will bet­ter my­self for next year,” he said.

Martinez ranked 12th na­tion­ally in to­tal of­fense (295.1 yards per game), and led all fresh­man in that cat­e­gory, while rank­ing fourth among fresh­men in pass­ing yards per game.

He av­er­aged 237.9 pass­ing yards per game and 57.2 rush­ing yards per game, be­com­ing just the sec­ond FBS true fresh­man since 1990 to av­er­age 200 pass­ing yards and 50 rush­ing yards per game and the first to hit those av­er­ages at a Power Five

I’VE BEEN AROUND GREAT COACHES HERE THAT RE­ALLY JUST AL­LOWED ME TO BET­TER MY­SELF. I JUST BE­COME A MUCH SMARTER PLAYER. I’M GO­ING TO CON­TINUE TO DO THAT. Adrian Martinez

pro­gram.

There’s more. Martinez was just the sixth fresh­man quar­ter­back – true or red­shirt – to av­er­age 200 pass­ing yards and 50 rush­ing yards per game since 1990, join­ing Ore­gon’s Mar­cus Mar­i­ota (2012), Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (2012) and Ohio State’s J.T. Bar­rett (2014) as the only fresh­men quar­ter­backs to reach those marks in the last decade.

Martinez set a school record for his to­tal of­fense per game and ranked sec­ond in school his­tory in com­ple­tion per­cent­age (64.6). He suf­fered a knee in­jury late in the Colorado game that kept him side- lined for two games. Still, he had a school-record seven 300-yard to­tal of­fense games in 2018, in­clud­ing three 400-yard to­tal of­fense games, ty­ing the Ne­braska sea­son and ca­reer record in that cat­e­gory.

This after sit­ting out his se­nior high school sea­son while re­cov­er­ing from a torn labrum. He en­rolled at Ne­braska in Jan­uary 2018 and par­tic­i­pated in spring foot­ball.

“Spring ball re­ally helped me with that tran­si­tion.” he said. “Foot­ball will never feel for­eign for me. I’ve been play­ing it my whole life, de­spite tak­ing a year off. Noth­ing felt new or weird me be­ing back on the field.”

And what has Martinez learned from this past sea­son that he will carry over for his sopho­more sea­son?

“I evolved as a player and as a per­son,” he said. “I’ve been around great coaches here that re­ally just al­lowed me to bet­ter my­self. I just be­come a much smarter player. I’m go­ing to con­tinue to do that. At the end of the day, I’m re­ally fo­cused on my team and what I can do to bet­ter my­self and gives us a chance to win. I re­ally have to stay fo­cused at the task at hand and to the peo­ple on my left and right.”

JAY LAPRETE AP

Ne­braska quar­ter­back Adrian Martinez plays against Ohio State on Nov. 3, 2018. Martinez was named to the Foot­ball Writ­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica Fresh­man All-Amer­i­can Team on Mon­day.

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