Signed: Tate Martell, the Nation's Second-Ranked Dual-Threat Passer, Took an Interesting Path to His Dream School

By Andrew Ellis on January 11, 2017 at 9:30a
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The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their Buckeye careers as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.

For the second year in a row, the Buckeyes' quarterback recruiting saw its twists and turns before ultimately ending up with one of the best in America. 

The Martell File

CLASS: 2017
SIZE: 5-foot-10.5, 203 pounds
POS: QB
SCHOOL: Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
COMPOSITE RANKING: ★★★★
COMPOSITE RANK: 2 (DT-QB)

Last year, Tristen Wallace hopped on board before ultimately electing to play as a wide receiver for the Oregon Ducks. Ohio State moved quickly on Terp commit Dwayne Haskins who would ultimately flip to the Buckeyes a few weeks before signing day.

This cycle's saga focused primarily on former commit Danny Clark and one of the nation's most prolific passers out of Las Vegas.

Tate Martell was offered by the Washington Huskies during the summer before his 8th-grade year. This was way back when Steve Sarkisian was running the show in Seattle. At the time, Martell still resided in his hometown of San Diego and – thanks to a 7th-grade highlight tape – was beginning to catch the eyes of local talent evaluators and college coaches. In July of 2012, shortly after receiving the offer, he committed to play for Sarkisian's Huskies.

After making the move to Las Vegas and Bishop Gorman high school, Martell's recruitment began to take off from a national perspective. He accounted for over 3,000 yards and 45 touchdowns as a sophomore en route to taking home Gatorade's Player of the Year honors for the state of Nevada. Sarkisian had already moved on from Washington to Southern California, and following his sophomore year – in January of 2015 – Martell backed off of his Washington pledge.

Heading into his junior year of high school, Martell was rated as a five-star and the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback. Even more impressive was the fact that he had notched an undefeated record while leading one of the nation's powerhouse teams. Texas A&M was a program on the rise following the Johnny Manziel era, and Martell had taken note of that. He committed to the Aggies in August of 2015. 

Because of his size -- 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds -- and ability to improvise in and out of the pocket, Martell has long been compared to former Texas A&M standout Johnny Manziel, and the Aggies capitalized on that when recruiting Martell. Via

Martell was committed to the Aggies for over a year, but Kevin Sumlin ran into some troubles at the quarterback position. In December of 2015 – following a disappointing 8-5 campaign – both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray elected to transfer from the program. The former cited the culture surrounding the program after the Manziel Era. 

In March of last year, reports began to surface that the Vegas standout would take a trip to Columbus. At the time, the Buckeyes had a commitment from Danny Clark, but many were questioning his development as he inched closer to his days in Columbus. Still, the Aggie commit played it a bit coy regarding the visit.

"I'm just going up to Ohio to visit my family that lives there towards the end of my spring break," Martell told Eleven Warriors. "I'm not sure if I'm going to make it over to see Ohio State or not. It just depends if my grandpa wants to check it out."

Six weeks later, he backed off of his Texas A&M commitment and the writing was on the wall that Ohio State's recruiting class was about to go through a major overhaul. The timeline surrounding the Buckeyes' offering Martell was really never public, though it actually took place shortly before his first unofficial visit. It's likely that things were kept a bit under the radar since Clark was already in the fold. 

While Tim Beck was leading the way for the Buckeyes, California offensive coordinator Jake Spavital was keeping the Golden Bears in the running as well. Martell had a longstanding relationship with him dating back to his days at Texas A&M. 

On June 12th, Martell officially made the call and committed to his dream school while visiting Columbus once again with his family in tow. He cited his relationship with the Buckeye coaches and Ohio State's ability to prepare him for the next level. At the time, a source chimed in with their thoughts on the newest Buckeye pledge.

"He's a little shorter than the guys they've had lately," a source said of Martell. "But he checks off every single box beyond that. He's got great touch, can zip it when he has to and he's as capable a runner as any quarterback in the country. He's the right fit for what Ohio State does and he's a winner, flat out."

Martell suited up for the West squad during last weekend's Army All-American Bowl. He got the starting nod and found the end zone on an 18-yard touchdown run. After finishing 45-0 during his high school career at Bishop Gorman, he did get a small taste of defeat in San Antonio as the East came out on top by a score of 27-17.

Since pledging to Ohio State, he's also taken on an active role on the recruiting front, targeting players like Jeffrey Okudah, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and a host of others. Like Haskins of the previous cycle, Martell just has something about him that others are drawn to. 

In addition to the Army All-American Bowl, he's also brought home a host of other honors. Last week he was named as the Maxpreps National Player of the Year and in December he took home Gatorade's National Player of the Year award. In doing so, he earned a visit from a very familiar face.

Martell is set to arrive in Columbus on Thursday as he will be one of nine early enrollees to begin classes this week. With J.T. Barrett returning for his senior season and Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow backing him up, he's likely in line for a redshirt season.

Martell also wrote a letter to Buckeye Nation, released on National Signing Day:

Martell Letter

 

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