In less than a month— barring something crazy happening— Martin, who has been committed since April, will sign with Penn State.
In less than two months, he’ll be a student at the University as an early enrollee.
But right now, Martin can’t worry too much about that because he has championships to win.
That’s “championships” plaural.
Martin, a four-star who is the No. 1 ’24 player in Pennsylvania and a top 60 overall player from his class according to 247Sports, led Belle Vernon High School, located in the Pittsburgh area, to a WPIAL and state championship last season.
Things are different this season.
Back then, Martin was a junior with plenty of high school football– as well as basketball, which he won’t be playing this season due to enrolling early– to look forward to.
Now, any of Belle Vernon’s remaining games– starting with Friday’s title rematch against Avonworth– could be his last at the high school level.
In 2022, Martin was still looking for his college home, and practically every school wanted him to pick them.
In 2023, Martin announced where he wanted to be and picked Penn State.
Martin’s grown as a leader as well, and part of being a leader is not being distracted.
Although Martin has a lot to juggle, he understands the opportunity he and Belle Vernon have ahead of it, and he knows to prioritize the present over the future.
“For the most part, I feel like I’m just taking it step by step,” Martin told Nittany Sports Now after practice Tuesday night. “I’m getting the things I need to get done, done. I’m obviously trying to stay focused on the football part of it. So I feel like I’m pretty balanced with school and sports, pretty much. Those are the things I have to focus most on, and I think I’m doing a very good job of that.”
Martin is also a 4.0 caliber student at Belle Vernon so that discipline transcends sports.
Of course, he’s pretty good at sports, too.
That’s how he caught coach James Franklin and Penn State’s attention.
Franklin saw him play a few times when recruiting Martin– including Belle Vernon’s state title game win over Neumann-Goretti last year. Most recently, Penn State’s boss was there when Belle Vernon hosted Elizabeth Forward for its regular-season finale in late October.
All Martin did that night was catch four passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Oh, he also ran for a 36-yard touchdown and had a pick-six (he’s pretty good at defense, too, you know.)
When remembring his Senior Night performance, Martin did what he does almost as well as he plays football– smiled.
“There’s no better feeling than that at all,” Martin said. “It’s just.. Coach Franklin coming to watch you play, you personally with Coach Terry (Smith), that’s a blessing. Not many people get to experience that.”
Martin can do just about anything on the field.
He can play receiver, defensive back, return kicks and, to quote the 2004 classic Friday Night Lights, “fill up the gatorade cooler, walk the dog and paint your back porch.”
Martin’s defensive coordinator, Brett Berish, told Nittany Sports Now in the spring that he thought Martin was “crazy for wanting to be on the offensive side of the ball.”
Martin will play anywhere Penn State asks him to, but running back is his favorite.
“Running back’s in my veins,” Martin said. “My uncle, my dad, everybody in my family played it, so I definitely plan on playing running back in the future.”
The future is certainly bright for Martin and the rest of Penn State’s 25 ‘24 commits, and the group is already close with each other before officially becoming teammates. Martin’s particularly close with fellow WPIAL commits Anthony Speca (three-star LB) and Peter Gonzalez (three-star WR), who each play for Pittsburgh Central Catholic. Martin’s known Speca since they were in the fifth grade and Gonzalez since the eight grade.
Martin said he’s also become closer with the Penn State family in general.
“We contact each other almost every day,” Martin said, “see how we’re doing, see how the families are doing. So our relationship now is definitely better than what it was before, and it’s only going to get better and better as time goes on.”
And what have Martin’s future coaches said about his current season?
“They said keep doing your thing,” Martin said, “stay healthy and bring the same energy when you get up there. That’s about it.”
Signing day is Dec. 20, and it will surely be one of the best days of Martin’s life. It could be challenging for a teenager to balance finishing high school strong while not daydreaming too much about something so big that’s in the near future, but Martin doesn’t see it that way.
“I wouldn’t say it’s very hard,” Martin said, “because in order to get to that, I have to do the little things before. I have to stay focused, I have to stay focused on the task at hand in order to be at Penn State and on Facetime and on the campus, you know?”
As of now, there are no specific plans for when and where Martin will sign.
When it happens, Martin knows it will be the end of a glorious chapter in his life and the start of what he hopes to be another glorious one.
“I just feel like, when the time happens, that’s when it’s time,” Martin said. “It’s time to move on, high school’s in the past and it’s time to move on to the next step.”