From sleeper to well-known… from mid-major offers to being coveted by Big Ten powers… a lot has happened in a very short time for Detroit Catholic Central DT Mike Martin. Even so, the state champion wrestler and shot-putter knew all along that his final decision on what school to attend would come down to something very simple. A feeling.
In his search for that gut reaction, the University of Michigan always had a leg up. Even when he opened the eyes of numerous college scouts with an impressive showing at the Penn State Nike Camp last month, the Maize & Blue still sat atop a perch in his recruitment. When he visited Ann Arbor today it was clear that that longtime advantage was too much for other schools to overcome.
"I got there and I sat down with Coach Moeller, Coach Stripling, and my parents in the recruiting lounge and we were just talking about how we won a state championship in track," Martin recalled. "We just talked about how good that was and everything. Then (recruiting coordinator) Chris Singletary took me on a tour of the academic building. They took my dad in the stadium, the locker rooms, the dorms, and he met a bunch of people… so he really enjoyed it. When we got back I just got this feeling that I've been looking for when it came time to pick my school. I just said to myself that I can't let this opportunity pass by. I just had that special feeling. That's when I really felt that I had go to Coach Carr and tell him the good news. He was really happy about that. He gave me a big hug and told me that he is really excited about me. He told me and my parents congratulations and that it was a real honor. All of the coaches congratulated me. It was great."
The decision might have come a lot sooner were it not for the recruiting pitch delivered by Penn State. The Nittany Lions did what few thought was possible in Martin's recruitment and that was make him think twice about following through on his childhood dream.
"I went down to Penn State the day before the Nike Camp and Coach Vanderlinden took me and my dad around," said Martin. "He took us around campus and that was my first time ever being in that part of Pennsylvania. I just really liked it in Happy Valley. It was a real good experience. But at the end of the day I still wanted to go to Michigan. The two schools are good football wise, but Penn State hasn't beat Michigan in like eight tries. But that's just one thing. It's more than that because you can't just look at athletics. Let's say something bad happens, God forbid, and I can't play any football for the rest of my life. Academics…they're good at both schools, but at the end of the day Michigan is right there by home and I can go home and get some home cooking from mom! You can't beat that."
With his decision now out of the way, the tri-sport star has alleviated the pressure of recruiting and plans to enjoy his senior year. However, in his final prep campaign he does plan to go about the business of readying himself for what he feels will be an opportunity to contribute to his college team early.
"Coach Carr really thought that with my maturity that I could come in and really have Terrance Taylor mentor me and play a lot," he said. "I'm only 16 years old, but I'm physically mature. He told me that in my sophomore year would be able to be the man."
In a few conversations today with current Michigan players it was made clear that success (or lack thereof) is all about preparation.
"I talked to Terrance Taylor for about 20 minutes," Martin recalled. I talked to Mike Hart for a while. He was actually doing some landscaping out front when we were talking. I talked to Shawn Crable too. Everybody was cool. I love everybody down there. I'll talk to them again in a few weeks because I'm still attending camp. I'm going to come get some coaching from Coach Strip."