MUSKEGON, Mich. — The decision wasn’t easy, but it has been made for Cameron Martinez: The do-it-all athlete is heading to Ohio State.
With scholarship offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Northwestern and many more, it’s understandable that the choice for the three-star Martinez had some layers to it. That happens whenever some of the country’s traditional football powers have a head-to-head battle against some of the nation’s premier academic institutions.
Some schools though, provide both of those things. That’s one reason why Martinez, a 6-foot, 195-pound athlete who was named the Michigan Player of the Year following a standout season in which the Muskegon star ran for more than 2,300 yards and scored 36 touchdowns, is joining the Buckeyes.
“I felt Ohio state was the best fit for me,” Martinez told Lettermen Row. “I had a pros and cons list with a bunch of schools, and I wrote down what I liked and what I didn’t like.”
Eventually the Buckeyes wound up with the most positives on the sheet of paper. But the road to an Ohio State commitment has been a bumpy one for Martinez.
First recruited by former Buckeyes assistant coach and current NFL assistant Kerry Coombs, Michigan’s eighth-ranked player made his initial visit to Ohio State following his freshman season of high school and left a good impression on then-receivers coach Zach Smith. That duo watched him, albeit not too closely, for a year-plus. Taver Johnson picked up the pace a bit last summer after replacing Coombs and built a good relationship with Martinez, but when Ohio State didn’t renew his contract after last season, the communication dropped off again.
Current Buckeyes assistant Matt Barnes reached out to Martinez in January. After that, things changed considerably.
Barnes, new receivers coach Brian Hartline, defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, head coach Ryan Day and key staff member Mark Pantoni all began talking to Martinez regularly. He went from a could-have-been-forgotten athlete in Western Michigan to a key priority for the entire Ohio State coaching staff. His February offer turned into a March visit that changed the course of his decision. A “mind-blowing” trip to Columbus firmly established Ohio State as the leader in his recruitment. And despite a strong push from Minnesota and Northwestern, nothing ever matched up to what the Buckeyes had to offer for Martinez.
“I think they recruited me harder than anybody else, having multiple coaches reaching out to me and showing how interested they are,” Martinez said. “And then after coming back from the official visit and processing it all, it made it a no-brainer. That’s where my gut was telling me to go.”
One of the country’s most explosive athletes, Martinez is as accomplished as any recruit in the Midwest. A state champion as a true freshman quarterback at Muskegon Central Catholic, he made the move to the Big Reds prior to the start of his junior year with an eye on expanding his national recruiting profile and challenging himself by increasing the level of competition he faced week in and week out.
Ohio State now sits with 18 commitments in 2020 with its class more than doubling in size since the start of June. The addition of Martinez stretches the Buckeyes lead as the top-ranked class in the Big Ten.
Check out more from the Buckeyes latest commit in a special edition of Birminology on Lettermen Row.