West High senior Oliver MartinBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – By now almost every football fans knows the story of Oliver Martin.
How the West High senior receiver went from little known prospect to one of the hottest football recruits in the country seemingly overnight.
A year ago Martin didn’t hold a division 1 scholarship offer to play football, now he spends his Saturday afternoons on recruiting trips to some of the most iconic locations in college football.
It’s easy to look at Martin and quickly focus on how drastically things have changed in a whirlwind six-month span.
It’s what hasn’t changed for Martin that makes him one of the best pass catchers in Iowa history.
“He works harder now than he ever has, he’s not going to relax just because he kind of made it, it hasn’t changed him,” West High offensive coordinator Andrew Durham said. “He keeps everything in perspective and does everything he’s supposed to do and just continues to outwork everyone else.”
This time last year Martin was wrapping up one of the best seasons by a 4A receiver in state history with 73 receptions for 1,187 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Despite his breakthrough season, Martin didn’t have a division 1 offer in football and was wondering if his future at the next level was on the baseball diamond.
That changed in a span of a few months this summer as Martin saw his recruiting stock skyrocket after impressive performances at national camps.
By the time his senior season began this fall Martin was a consensus four-star recruit, ranked in among the top 100 players in the country and being courted by some of the top programs in the country.
“We aren’t as a staff surprised by any of it,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said. “We are just surprised at how quickly things spread more than anything. He has been doing crazy things in the weight room his he was a sophomore.”
Scholarship offers poured in over the summer from Big Ten powers like Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin as well as Notre Dame, Oregon and others.
Martin climbed to No. 67 in the national recruiting rankings by 247Sports and is ranked as the number 10 receiver in the country.
Suddenly, Martin was a bona fide star.
“All of a sudden he’s this massive recruit but he’s the same guy, very quiet, very humble and very hard working,” Hartwig said. “I hope he is enjoying the recruiting process any everything that has come with that but the biggest thing for him and what he likes to do is just be around his teammates and play football.”
Everything surrounding Martin has changed. The recruiting rankings, the attention, the honors.
Everything else has stayed the same, including his production on the field.
Martin has followed up his breakthrough junior season with another impressive year.
He has caught 59 passes for 907 yards and 10 touchdowns entering West High’s playoff opener on Friday against Bettendorf (7-2) at TouVelle Stadium.
“During the week I just focus on the same thing I just try to work hard in practice and do my best to do my job each play and help the team get better and get ready for our opponent,” Martin said. “On the weekends I’m going to more visits this year with more offers from schools and I’m looking to see which one is the best fit.”
Martin has already rewritten the West High record books breaking every career and single-season receiving record.
He will go down as the most prolific big school receiver in Iowa history and one of the best the state has ever seen.
“I credit coach Durham and the offensive coaches for putting our players in a position to be successful and I credit his conditioning and his work ethic outside of the game itself,” Hartwig said. “He busts it non-stop year-round and is a very well-conditioned athlete and luck favors
He is the first Class 4A player to catch 200 career passes and surpass 3,000 receiving yards and ranks fourth all-time in both categories with 213 receptions for 3,084 yards.
His 29 career touchdown catches tie Urbandale’s Allen Lazard for the most by a 4A player.
The humble Martin credits his career achievements to longevity and his teammates.
“It’s played with a lot of great players and it kind of seems like I’ve been around for a long time but it seems like it has gone quickly,” Martin said. “It’s been a long journey.
Martin has been almost impossible to defend the past two seasons.
In his last 20 games Martin has had more than 100 yards receiving 13 times and caught a touchdown pass in 15 of those contests.
He has 132 catches for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons and has thrown two touchdown passes and run for another during that span.
“He’s definitely a leader on this team, people see him lead by example a lot,” West High junior quarterback Ethan Postler said. “He’s just an incredible player but he’s a great leader.”
Martin has six 100-yard games this season and has caught a touchdown pass in four straight games heading into Friday’s showdown with Bettendorf.
“I feel like I’m playing my best football right now,” Martin said. “I feel like I’m faster and stronger and I’m a better player this year. I try and make sure I go at a high level on every play, if it’s blocking or catching the ball.”
Martin will try to extend his senior season by doing what he’s done each of the past three season, come up big in the big moments.
In seven playoff games Martin has 24 receptions for 276 yards and five touchdowns.
He hasn’t changed anything all season so don’t expect Martin to change now.
“There is a lot of pressure externally but on the field is where I think he is most comfortable,” Hartwig said. “That is what has been really neat about this experience is all-Americans are very few and far between and if you came to practice you wouldn’t know who the all-American is. He’s just loves playing football and being with his teammates.”