Land of 10 has embarked on a series of “Next Generation” articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the class of 2017 signees. Land of 10 Michigan writers Rachel Lenzi and Kevin Goheen are visiting this year’s Michigan incoming class of freshmen to show you more than their 40-yard dash times and recruiting rankings. Today we visit with WR Oliver Martin of Iowa City, Iowa.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Oliver Martin’s Twitter page isn’t exactly an overabundance of activity on the World Wide Web. His tweet announcing his commitment to Michigan is pinned to the top of the page, but you have to go back almost another month before you see another original tweet from him.
It’s a “Happy Birthday” greeting to a friend.
“I joke with my friends a lot,” Martin said, “that I’ll stick to basically Happy Birthdays and re-tweets.”
— Oliver Martin (@O_Martin3) March 24, 2017
There is plenty to say about Martin, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound wide receiver from Iowa City West High School who has caught more passes for more yards and more touchdowns than anyone else in Iowa high school history. Just don’t expect him to be the one saying it.
Don’t expect him to tell you how he has twice been an all-state selection in baseball who received several Division I college offers. Don’t expect him to tell you how he’s a six-time high school All-America swimmer who won the state title in the 50 free in February.
Martin’s quiet personality belies a fierce competitor who could just as easily be among the elite prospects in those other two sports as he is in football. It’s a quality that helped bring him and Michigan together. Few people knew who Martin was a year ago, but he was on everyone’s radar by the time the summer recruiting camp circuit was complete.
He didn’t do that by boasting vocally or via social media. He did it by outperforming everyone at the Nike Opening Chicago regional, being named that camp’s MVP, and earning a trip to The Opening finals in Oregon, where he was named to the second team. The wide receivers at the competition included Martin’s future Michigan teammates Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins.
The performance might have surprised many, but not Garrett Hartwig, Martin’s coach at Iowa City West.
“He’s very motivated intrinsically,” Hartwig said. “It’s hard to say what makes him tick. I think the standards that he holds himself to is what really drives him. He wants to be a part of a winning team, of a winning program first, and he wants to be a huge contributor to that team’s success.
“I don’t know what motivates him personally, other than he just wants to be the best. He’s been the best. What makes a young man like that tick, you never know. I wish I knew because then I’d pass it on to my own sons. It’s unique, to say the least.”
Martin caught 158 passes for 2,350 yards the last two seasons, while accumulating 3,675 all-purpose yards and scoring 33 touchdowns. Those numbers superficially tell you about Martin.
They don’t tell you about his desire to not just win but to be the best, and his willingness to put in the underlying work that goes into being the best.
Martin won’t tell you, either. He’ll just let his performances speak.
“I’ve never been the most outspoken person, but I’m confident in what I do and I’m definitely competitive,” Martin said. “My training has given me confidence, and I can see what I can do. That’s where the quiet competitiveness comes from because I’ve never been an outspoken person.”
You can read more about Martin when we profile him in our Next Generation series later in May. We’ll dive deeper into his quiet competitiveness and also take a look at how he might not be the best athlete in his own family.