A Reality Shock for the Ages By: Peter Snyder
Meet Tate Martell. A 5″11 QB from Las Vegas who may just be, the unluckiest man in America. In a span of just 2 years Martell transformed from a nearly flawless individual who could do no wrong, to a fly on the wall who is desperately trying to stick. This is his story.
Let me take you back to early August of 2016. A warm Las Vegas sun beamed down on an already scorching turf as dozens upon dozens of young, talented high school football players began their mission on a new and promising football season. The expectations were high and anything short of a National Championship would be seen a disappointment. This wasn’t just any ordinary team, this was Bishop Gorman. A high school football powerhouse that was coming off of back to back perfect seasons and had the talent to do it all again. At the head of it all? Tate Martell of course. A 5 star recruit who could seemingly pick any college of his choosing and was praised by the entire community as royalty. Tate wasn’t just good, he was perfect. During his first two years at BG, Martell had comprised a record of 30-0 and had done it with what had looked like ease, as Gorman blew out everyone and anyone in their way. This success did not go unnoticed on a national platform. A small media company was in the process of filming a show which followed three of the most highly anticipated and skilled high school QBs in the nation during the 2016 season with the end goal of it being turned into Docu series. Tate was their biggest get by far. He had the most twitter followers, had the most eyeballs around him, and although the other two were very good (Tayvon Bowers and Jake Fromm,) they were no Tate. Bishop Gorman opened their 2016 campaign on a national stage, as they traveled to Texas to face powerhouse, Cedar Hill. The game was on ESPN2 and anyone who was anyone was going to have their eyes glued to this one. Tate did what only he had known how to do for the first 17 years of his early life, absolutely dominate. Martell was an absolute surgeon on the gridiron and come nights end, Bishop Gorman had started their season off with a 44-14 win. As the season progressed, Martell began to grow stronger, and the national attention grew fonder. Martell had announced that he was going to Ohio State in the hopes of being their next star QB, was winning games in dominating fashion, and was living the damn dream. Martell finished his Senior season with a perfect 15-0 record which was capped off with a dominating 84-8 win in the Nevada state championship. This dominance gave Bishop Gorman another national title which capped Martell’s perfect 45-0 record while at the school. Martell had accomplished what so little had done and to this day, is considered as one of the most dominant high school football players of all time.
After graduating high school, Martell shipped up to Columbus in hopes of being the next great Buckeye QB. Heading into the 2017 season, Martell knew the starting QB job belonged to J.T. Barrett, so when he was put on redshirt, this came as little surprise to anyone. That being said, this had to have been a culture shock for the former BMOC. All he had known leading up to this point was not only starting, but being the center of attention at all times. He was now going to be on the scout team all season with the goal of helping his defense out, rather than being a real contributor on offense. He knew his time would come however, so Tate remained positive throughout the year and per reports, took his role on the scout team with great pride. Then the Michigan game happened. During Ohio State’s last game of the regular season while playing arch rival Michigan, J.T Barrett suffered a leg injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the game. When the injury occurred, Ohio State was trailing at the time, so it would take a true hero if the Buckeyes wanted any chance of winning. Because Tate was on redshirt, the Buckeyes were forced to call upon redshirt Freshman, Dwayne Haskins. Haskins was a young QB from Maryland who was rumored to have a rocket of an arm. The rumors were not wrong. Haskins went on to lead the Buckeyes to a comeback victory in the Big House, which was followed by a Big Ten Championship the following week. Haskins had stolen the hearts of Buckeye nation in the span of 14 days, and Martell knew this was bad news for his role on the team come 2018.
Fast forward to the fall of 2018, and Martell was finally eligible for collegiate play. The redshirt that had weighed seemingly 10000 pounds had been lifted off and Tate was ready to compete. Martell knew it was a long shot, but believed he could be the starting QB come week 1. He balled out in the spring game, showed glimpses of greatness in practice, but came up just short to Haskins and started the season as the backup. I can only imagine, that the frustration for Tate had to have started to begin here as this “coming in second” montra that he was experiencing, is something he had never been accustomed to before. Although Martell was called upon for some 3rd down wildcats during the season along with an occasional appearance during garbage time, the year belonged to Haskins. Haskins finished the season throwing for over 4800 yards, tossing 50 TD passes which broke a Big Ten record, and finished the year 3rd in the Heisman voting. If it wasn’t clear that Martell was a second option before, it sure as hell is now. However, things are not all bad for Martell. Due to him redshirting, he still has three years of eligibility left and due to the rumor of Haskins leaving for the draft, the starting job was sure to be his in 2019. What could possibly go wrong? Well…… it was recently released that former Georgia QB Justin Fields who was ranked as the #1 recruit nationally coming out of high school, would be transferring to The Ohio State University. At this point, you really just have to feel for Martell. He can just not catch a break and what looked like a promising dream just a few years ago, has turned into a nightmare that never ends. Now, I know Fields is not just going to come into Columbus and get the starting job right away, but the talent is there and if he puts it into practice he is the future of OSU football. Martell is now left with a choice. He can either transfer to a school that would guarantee him the starting job such as one of a NC State or Baylor, or he could continue to ride out this wave in Columbus in hopes to one day earn his shot, which he feels he so desperately deserves.
The moral of the story here is simple. You can never get too comfortable in life. In the summer of 2016, Tate Martell had it all. He probably got the girls, had the starting job and did nothing but win on and off the field. I can guarantee you that this attitude of perfection and this treatment of royalty was in some way expected when he arrived in Ohio. But here we are, nearly 3 years later and Tate hasn’t started a single game and may never. Never get comfortable, because the second you do that, life will knock you down on your ass harder than you have ever got knocked down before and you will not know how to get up. I wish nothing but the best for this young man in the future and hope to see him starting somewhere, someday.