Jay LaPrete / AP
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 | 2 a.m.
When college quarterback Tate Martell announced late Tuesday night that he will transfer from Ohio State to Miami, the Hurricanes knew they would be acquiring the program's highest-rated quarterback since Kyle Wright 16 years ago. (Martell was rated by Rivals as the nation's No. 39 overall prospect in 2017; Wright was fifth in 2003.)
What the Hurricanes don't know is when he will be eligible to play. Ordinarily, a player coming off his second season on campus would need to sit out a year if he transfers. But Martell, a former Bishop Gorman player, has two possible avenues to avoid that:
The Columbus Dispatch reported last week that Martell is "believed to be on track to graduate in May, which would enable him to go to another program and be eligible to play immediately."
And if graduation in May proves unrealistic, Martell is pursuing another avenue: 247sports.com reported Wednesday that Martell is seeking a waiver from the NCAA to make him eligible to play at UM in 2019.
"Early indications are that Martell will try to use Ohio State's sudden coaching change, from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day, as grounds to be immediately eligible," according to the website.
The NCAA has been more lenient in granting waivers recently, but Martell's bid for one is a toss-up at best.
Martell redshirted his freshman year (2017) and has three years of eligibility remaining.
If he's not eligible in 2019, N'Kosi Perry, Jarren Williams and Cade Weldon would compete for UM's starting job this coming season.
The top grad transfer candidates came off the board in the past two days, with Alabama's Jalen Hurts committing to Oklahoma, SMU's Ben Hicks to Arkansas and Notre Dame's Brandon Wimbush to UCF.
Williams' father said Wednesday that Williams will remain with the Hurricanes and Martell's decision doesn't change that.
"He's fine,' Williams' father said. "He's committed to being there. It has never been an issue with competition with Jarren. The cream always rises to the top."
We hear Williams is excited to work with new UM offensive coordinator Dan Enos.
Here was some of the feedback on Martell coming out of Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas in 2017, where he was 43-0:
Rivals' Adam Gorney: "The two things that stand out to me most about him are his unflinching confidence in himself and his teammates and his incredible competitiveness level ...
"Martell is phenomenal in games, with unique abilities to make the toughest throws look easy, to put the ball right on the money time and time again, to prolong plays with his athletic ability so receivers can come back and get open, and to always show up in the big moments. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Martell played in a lot of huge, big-time high school football games and never once did he crack under the pressure. He thrives under it. The kid is an absolute winner on every level and that's why I think he deserves to be the No. 1 dual-threat QB in this class." (Rivals ended up rating him the No. 2 dual threat QB.)
Rivals' Mike Farrell said, "He'll have to be a very special player to overcome his lack of height [5-11] at the next level and beyond. The other concerns I have are his inability to handle criticism, which has been proven a few times on social media sensitivity, how well he will handle competing and possibly having to wait his turn. Also, his three college commitments concern me as a future decision-maker and leader. I think he's one of the kids in this class that could need to be de-recruited the most because he's a star on the high school level and that might have gone to his head."
Martell is very good at the read option, has excellent mobility and escapability, a strong arm and has been highly accurate in his playing career.
Four notable takeaways from an interesting Cleveland.com profile last May of Martell, who completed 23 of 28 passes for 269 yards and one touchdown and ran 22 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns in limited playing time for Ohio State last season:
1. Author Bill Landis (who was then with the Cleveland Plain Dealer and now with The Athletic) wrote: "The truth is that Martell is partly who you think he is. Some might call him cocky, a punk, a little entitled and easy to hate, especially if your team is playing against him. What those close to Martell would also tell you is that he's fiercely competitive, protective of his teammates and a winner."
2. His father, Al Martell, admitted: "Tate is an anxious and, to be honest, impatient person. ... The worst thing people can say about Tate is that he's a cocky kid right now that's too short and will never make it past the high school level. You'll find people who think he's a one-hit wonder. I think that's what's motivated him."
The family acquired an apartment in downtown Columbus early last year, not expecting him to transfer.
3. Landis writes that "one time his [high school] team went to Texas and, in front of 15,000 aggressive Texans, hung a 44-14 loss on Cedar Hill, then the No. 5 team in the country. Martell celebrated that win by tweeting "TEXAS WHO?" — during the game."
It was chronicled on QB1, a reality show that starred Martell during his senior year. Martell said he didn't tweet from the sideline, claiming someone else had his phone, but tweeted a map of Nevada superimposed over Texas after the game.
4. Martell was quoted as saying this in 2016: "When plays break down I think that's when I can separate myself from different players and other quarterbacks. That's one of my best attributes is that when plays break down, and stuff isn't normal, I can make something happen ... But I always go through my reads like a regular quarterback, I just feel like if they blitz and somebody's coming, I can make that guy miss and still make something happen. Maybe some other quarterbacks take that hit and go down. It's not that I sit back there, drop back and run around."
Urban Meyer, who installed a package for Martell to take advantage of his running ability, said in November: Give him a five on the competitor scale. He's an elite competitor. He's worked his you-know-what off. And I do see that." Meyer stepped down as Ohio State coach after this past season.
Martell, who had a large social media following since he committed to Washington in eighth grade, last year confirmed a New York Times report that he bought Twitter followers when he was a freshman in high school.
"Oh yeah for my old account [@tate18martell]," he told Cleveland.com last spring. "When I was 16 I was like, 'Let's go buy some followers.' I think I got like 2,000 followers from them." Buying that many followers costs about $28.
The old account hasn't been active since December 2014. He has 142,000 followers on his new account (@TheTateMartell) and has said he hasn't bought any.