Alumni corner: Sam Martin adapts quickly to college game at Miami of Ohio

Fairview graduate Sam Martin made an immediate impact with Miami (Ohio) as a freshman this fall (Photo courtesy Miami athletics).

We see you, Sam Martin. Rather, you made us look.

And at first glance, it appears Martin is going to fit right in with the Miami of Ohio offense for years to come.

To no one’s surprise, the Fairview graduate acclimated himself to the Redhawks’ complex playbook with few bumps in the road in 2014, and as a true freshman got the chance to be part of one of the nation’s most prolific college passing attacks.

He also almost single-handedly halted a long losing streak for the FBS school. All-in-all, after hauling in 22 receptions for 321 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman, Martin was pretty satisfied about his initial experience.

“Coming from high school to college, I really just didn’t know what the transition would be like,” Martin said as he was back in Boulder for semester break. “When they recruited me I was told I’d be able to play right away, but you never know if they’re just saying that … you don’t know where you stand.

“The pace of everything was so much different than high school, but I feel like I adjusted pretty well. The offense was hard to pick up at first, but once I caught the groove it just sort of started to come naturally.”

Practices may have been going well, but the depth of the receiving corps was such that the reps didn’t magically appear for the former Knight in games. Through the first five games of the year, Martin had tallied just three catches, all the while watching and suffering with the team as they extended a losing streak to 21 games.

But when October hit — along with a big injury to one of the team’s flex players — Martin’s role increased, and he responded with an eight-catch, 111-yard day against Massachusetts that included a school record-tying four touchdowns.

A kid who was aching for a Division-I opportunity arrived, and more importantly the Redhawks got their first win in more than 1 1/2 seasons.

“The week before, our starting running back got hurt, and when we go to our third-down package he splits out and we go empty back,” Martin said. “I kind of took that role in that game, and then in the UMass game I was a full contributor. It was cool to help get the win and break a losing streak, but it was a team win and I just was a part of it.”

Martin didn’t see another individual contest quite like that the rest of the year, but he did catch another TD in a high-scoring affair two weeks later against Northern Illinois. Miami went on to win one more game, finishing 2-10.

Martin bought in to first-year head coach Chuck Martin’s systems, and he believes there are plenty more wins to be had in the future for the squad. The Redhawks were the 26th-best passing offense in the FBS, and coach Martin has a solid reputation as a recruiter having been on the staff of Notre Dame’s 2011 BCS title game-appearing team.

The Redhawks will lose senior quarterback Andrew Hendrix and senior wideouts Dawan Scott and David Frazier (who combined for 77 catches). A large number of wideouts return, and one would expect Martin to see more time on the field next year.

He’s jumping right back into the grind as soon as the semester break concludes.

“Being in this system for another year, we’re working hard to get the feel of it and being able to execute all our assignments,” Martin added. “They’re bringing in a lot of great players, and we’re going to fill a lot of gaps. The way coach Martin guides us, and his staff, we’re on the right track.”

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