'09 Introduction: Zach Martin

Bloomington, Ind. - Bishop Chatard offensive line prospect Zach Martin was in Bloomington earlier this month for Junior Day, and has already been offered by the IU staff. HoosierNation.com takes a closer look at one of IU's top early '09 targets...

Bloomington, Ind. – Indiana is taking an early-bird approach to its 2009 recruiting efforts.

While other programs have been focusing their attention during the last several weeks on wrapping up their '08 classes, Indiana has been trying to get a head start on 2009. With that in mind, the IU football program had approximately a dozen of the best juniors in the state on campus the weekend of Jan. 19.

One of those players was Zach Martin, a 6-5, 260-pound lineman from Indianapolis' Bishop Chatard H.S. Indiana has already offered the Junior All-State selection a scholarship, and according to his high school coach Vince Lorenzano, IU is trying to get a head start on one of the best the state has to offer for '09.

"Coach (Bill) Lynch is trying to take the program to the next level, and it just so happens you have a kid here who I think is easily the best lineman in the state of Indiana, and might be the best lineman in the tri-state area," said Lorenzano.

"For Indiana to be in attack mode with him is important because once other schools come into play, it gets a little tougher. So everything they can do to separate themselves to get this kind of kid is important."

At Chatard, Martin was a two-way standout this past fall on a team that went 12-3 and won its second consecutive Class 3A state championship. While he is a highly-productive defensive lineman on his prep team as well, Lorenzano believes he'll settle in as an offensive lineman at the collegiate level. Lorenzano said Martin runs a 5.0 40 and has the sort of frame that suggests he'll wind up being a 6'7", 300-pounder by the team he's in college.

"He brings to the table everything you want out of a blue-chip recruit," Lorenzano said. "He has a fierce, attacking sort of attitude, good hands, good feet, he'll get bigger, he's a good student, and he's athletic enough to play multiple positions."

Those sort of attributes have attracted the IU staff, but others figure to be equally involved with Martin in the near future. Lorenzano said Virginia, Michigan, Kentucky are just a sampling of the programs that figure to be interested. Martin attended Michigan's football camp last summer and performed very well, which could result in a UM offer down the road. Kentucky, meanwhile, has a big in with Martin since his father played for the Wildcats and his mother was a trainer at UK.

"I think (there's a draw to play at Kentucky)," Lorenzano said. "The guy who came in as a recruiter played football with his dad. They also still have family down there."

Lorenzano said Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky are three of the 12 schools Martin is considering, along with Notre Dame, Purdue, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Louisville, Boston College and Virginia. That list could change, though, depending what unfolds during the spring and summer months.

"He could go national eventually as a recruit if he goes to a couple of camps and continues the progress he's made," Lorenzano said. "He's pretty damn big. He fills the doorway pretty easy. That's the first thing the Kentucky guy noticed. He's a big kid. And he's not very heavy yet. At 260, he's pretty well put together, but he can gain more weight. They project a kid like that to be 6-7 and 300 pounds in a few years."

Indiana's hope is that can secure an early commitment from Martin and keep it from turning into a national recruiting battle. In the past, Lorenzano has had kids commit both before and after the season and said he doesn't have a preference with how his players choose to handle it.

"We've had it both ways, and it doesn't matter to me as long as it's organized, efficient and smartly done," Lorenzano said. "I don't like game-playing, and I don't like parents who think it's a candy store and they can just shop.

"I think you know if you want to go west or east or south. You know if you want to play in cold weather or warm weather. And you know what kind of educational environment you want. Once you've settled some of those issues, you should narrow yourself down."

Martin has already done that, evidenced by the fact he's already narrowed his list of suitors to 12.

"In Zach's case, I think he'll take his time thinking about it, but he's already narrowed himself down to 12 schools," Lorenzano said. "He knows where he wants to be – Midwest – and that's the No. 1 thing."

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