Martz Takes Place Next to Star Linemates

A year ago when you talked about a star-quality trio of Alabama offensive linemen in the same class, you were probably talking about Wesley Britt, Evan Mathis and Justin Smiley.

Smiley decided to enter the NFL draft after his junior season, and has gone on to be a success with the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile back in Tuscaloosa, fifth-year senior Danny Martz's consistent effort in each of the first six games of the season has supplanted the Martz's name in place of Smiley's, alongside his previously higher-profile classmates as an All-SEC-caliber offensive guard.

"I'm just trying to take advantage of the position I've got right now," Martz said. "It's my time to shine and I'm not going to let it pass me by. I'm just having fun and every week trying to get better. I'm just going out there and doing what I can to help the team."

Said Alabama Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader, "Danny is one of those stories that exemplifies what college football is about. He had an opportunity this year and took advantage of it. He has played very, very well. He has made very few mental mistakes. He has done a nice job and has the respect of the coaching staff and his teammates. And he has already earned his degree."

Martz has consistently had film grades in the 90s, and he helped set a goal for the entire offense to strive for against Kentucky last Saturday.

"We'd been stressing all week how we wanted to put the game on our shoulders, the offensive line. We want to be the ones to lead the team," he said. We knew we were going to run the ball a good bit and we were pretty excited about that.

"My goal, I was talking to JB (Closner) the day before (the game), about getting 300 yards rushing and we were able to do it."

Now the offense has to try to gain all of those yards on the ground against USM without it's most potent weapon, Ray Hudson. Hudson took a blow to the knee in the third quarter against Kentucky, and will have surgery this week.

"It's hurts to lose a guy, especially a senior. But it's just like when we lost Brodie," Martz said. "We're going to need some guys to step up. I think it's a position where we have some guys with good experience. We don't have a guy who hasn't played much - Darby and Tim Castille, we have plenty of guys who have played a lot. We're just going to need them to step up and play a bigger role here. It's what the offensive line has to do again is just put it on our shoulders and help lead the team tell them we can take care of it."

Martz has seen the Golden Eagles up close every year since he's been at the Capstone, and he redshirted the year that Southern Miss shut out Alabama in Birmingham, 21-0.

"Southern Miss is game that is just as important as any other game," he said. "Their defense is hard. We're going to have to work hard this week because their defense is very unique.

"Sometimes they won't have any guys with a hand down, any down linemen. Sometimes they'll be jumping around a lot. This is a week when the offense is really going to have to prepare well and study and watch a lot of film and be ready for them."

Martz's name isn't the first to spring to the tongue of many people when discussing pro football prospects on the current Tide squad, but after waiting in the wings for years Martz has proved himself at the collegiate level and he would like a chance to do so in the NFL. Martz isn't in any hurry to rush through his senior year at Bama, though.

"It's definitely something I've thought about. It's something that's always been a goal and it's always been in the back of my head," he said when asked about playing professionally. "Let's stay healthy and take care of this year and we'll see what happens after that."

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