COLUMBUS — One of the strangest off-seasons in college football history hasn’t changed anything for the 2020 Ohio State recruiting class.
The program signed 25 players in December and February, and 14 of those new Buckeyes already enrolled and participated in both winter workouts and the pandemic-shortened spring camp. That group was able to get an up-close look at the way Ohio State handles its business and had three months worth of working with strength coach Mickey Marotti, learning the expectations and standards of the program in the weight room, position room and more.
As for the other 11? Those non-enrolled signees had entered the spring expecting to arrive at Ohio State in early June but are instead home, uncertain when they’ll move to campus and begin their collegiate careers.
There aren’t many players in that class more familiar with uncertainty than Cameron Martinez, so for the two-time Michigan player of the year, it’s been business as usual — or at least as close to usual as possible. The talented athlete took his time during the recruiting process, and one of the reasons for that was Martinez trying to decide if he should play wide receiver or defensive back in college.
“I’m just on a routine every day,” Martinez told Lettermen Row. “We have an app for workouts and position meetings I can watch. They have me learning both positions, which is good.”
That’s a big deal for the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Martinez, because he’s never played either position he’s learning the playbook for ahead of his arrival on campus. In high school, the Muskegon standout played exclusively at quarterback in order to give his team the best chance to win. At Ohio State, he’ll work with the defensive backs and the wide receivers, and he’ll likely have a chance to return kicks and punts as well. The adjustment is challenging, but it’s all beginning to make sense for Martinez.
“I knew it would be a challenge,” he said. “And it’s going to be more of a challenge when I get more into the offensive side, but they both help me. I’m learning a lot and understanding more. It’s all starting to come together.
“I’ve been watching a lot of film of people on the defensive side. Cornerbacks, cover safeties, nickel backs — a lot of tape on Shaun Wade at the nickel spot.”
The lack of spring practices in Columbus means more time than ever for coaches to chat with and give feedback to players who didn’t enroll early at Ohio State. That is somewhat of a positive for players who had in the past felt disadvantaged when they arrived on campus six months after their classmates.
“This is really creating a whole new dynamic for us going forward,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs said last month. “The availability and ease of using technology to connect with all of your players at once will change how we do business when on the road recruiting or any extended time away from our players.”
Martinez agrees. He’s ahead of where he expected to be as he finds more time to learn playbooks and to train his body exclusively for football, which is something the multi-sport athlete has never done before.
“I wouldn’t be this far if this didn’t happen,” Martinez said. “I’m able to learn a lot every day. I’m adjusting to the workouts, and I’ve managed to keep it up. I’m going to start going to two times a day next week. I’m doing lower body and upper body but also working on positional stuff as well as conditioning. I love it. I know it will be really different when I get to Columbus.”
Cam Martinez was one of the country’s most versatile 2020 prospects. And he is proving to himself he’s ready for that, no matter when it happens next or what role Ohio State asks him to play when the time inevitably comes.