Pain led Martz to seek help from the Tide medical staff, and after extensive tests it was determined that there was actually a patch of dead bone at the top of his lower leg. "I actually had some dead bone tissue just below the knee in my femur," Martz explained. "The doctors decided they had to go in and cut it out."
Given the pounding that football athletes' limbs must take, similar injuries are not unheard of. Tide fans will remember that former safety Shontua Ray had to have a piece of dead tissue removed from his knee, only in his case the fragment had broken loose and was "floating" inside the joint.
Martz's surgery involved cutting out the dead bone tissue, and then grafting in live tissue to promote healing. "They went in and cut it out," Danny Martz related to BamaMag.com recently. "Then they took some plugs from the side of the leg--sort of like bone grafts."
The procedure was done toward the end of spring semester, which should allow plenty of time for recovery. "They told me I'd be out for six to eight weeks, but I should be back by the season," Martz said. "That's my plan."
Working to heal as quickly as he can, Martz has been a fixture in the Tide training room for the past month. From a conditioning point of view the problem is that in order to allow the leg to heal, he must keep weight off the joint. So the big lineman has been hobbling around on crutches. "There's not that much pain," he said. "I just can't put my full weight on it."
Signed in 2000 out of the famous DeMatha High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Martz redshirted his first season on campus and saw very limited action in 2001 as a redshirt freshman. Last season he played sparingly in five games in a back-up role, getting his most extensive action (eight snaps) versus Vanderbilt.
At 6-4, 294 pounds, Martz's strength is as a run blocker. It's not at all unusual for linemen to take a few years to mature and add strength before they're ready to play on the college level. Nothing was guaranteed, but Martz finished spring drills listed second string at guard. Before the injury he was hoping to solidify his spot in the playing rotation this fall.
"I told Coach Connelly (Bobby Connelly, Alabama's offensive line coach) that I still plan on playing next year," Martz said.
In the meantime Martz rehabs his injured leg every day, then moves on to the weight room to make what progress he can with the rest of his body. "I can't do much work with my legs," he acknowledged, "but hopefully I can become a monster in the upper body."