Tate Martell finally got the chance to respond to his critics. Unfortunately for both he and the Miami Hurricanes, though, it didn’t last long.
Martell was brought off the bench in relief of starting quarterback Jarren Williams during the second quarter of Miami’s bowl game against Louisiana Tech on Thursday.
It was his first appearance under center since the season opener versus Florida on Aug. 24. He later switched positions to wide receiver, appearing in three additional games but recording no statistics.
Needless to say, Martell had lots of rust to shake off when he entered for Williams with 7:19 left in the second quarter, the Hurricanes trailing 7-0. He completed his first pass of the season on third down to move the chains and carried the ball on the next three snaps. But the playmaking magic that made Martell a prep phenom was absent when he needed it most.
Miami was forced to punt after Martell took six snaps at quarterback. He completed his only pass for seven yards and rushed five times for just five yards.
Coach Manny Diaz clearly didn’t think Martell gave the Hurricanes’ offense the spark it needed. The next time they were on offense, Williams was back in the game at quarterback, with Martell taking his familiar seat on the bench.
Martell, one of the most highly sought-after quarterback prospects in the high school class of 2017, arrived at Ohio State to much fanfare. With a rocket arm and rare speed and power as a runner, he seemed the dual-threat quarterback perfectly suited to thriving in Urban Meyer’s innovative spread attack.
Martell red-shirted as a freshman, though, and was beaten out by Dwayne Haskins in training camp the following season. He played sparingly in 2018 despite fans’ ongoing intrigue with his skill set.
In the wake of Haskins’ early departure for the NFL, Martell was poised to emerge as the Buckeyes’ starter this season. When rumors began swirling late last season that Georgia quarterback Justin Fields was mulling a transfer to Ohio State, Martell was incredulous at the notion that development could prompt his own departure. He said in Dec. 2018, per The Lantern:
Why would I leave for someone who hasn’t put in a single second into this program? To just run away from somebody who hasn’t put a single second into workouts anything like that and doesn’t know what the program is all about, there’s not a chance. I will [be the starting quarterback]. I am 100 percent sure on that.
Martell, obviously, had no plans to go anywhere.
That changed less than a week later, when Fields officially announced he was transferring to Ohio State. Martell’s change of heart might as well have been instantaneous.
Not even two weeks after Fields made his intentions known, Martell announced he was taking his talents to South Beach.
The luster of Martell’s recruitment hadn’t completely worn off entering this season. He was granted a hardship waiver from the NCAA to play immediately and went into preseason practices as the presumptive favorite to win the Hurricanes’ starting job.
Instead, Miami announced on Aug. 12 that Williams, a red-shirt freshman, had beaten out Martell and N’Kosi Perry in an open quarterback competition. That’s when Martell’s tweet from the previous December warning Fields about transferring to Columbus resurfaced, with Buckeyes fans reveling in the irony.
Fields finished third in Heisman Trophy voting this season while leading Ohio State to the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes play Clemson in the national semifinal on Saturday.
Martell, meanwhile, never returned to the Walk On’s Independence Bowl, adding another chapter to his winding college football odyssey.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:40 PM UTC