A Silver Hawk's dream come true

You grow up in Nebraska and more than likely, you have a dream: To one day wear the Scarlet and Cream. It's a birthright of those within the borders of Nebraska to aspire to that and most do. Well, official as of yesterday, there's another in-state star that will add his name to the class of 2006 and he knows that his dream will soon come true.

We got a chance to see Lincoln Southwest's Ben Martin during summer camps this year at the University of Nebraska. Standing around 6 foot, 4 inches tall, weighing about 240, Martin was one of those names that stood out, because at his size, he still jumped almost 30 inches and he ran a 4.7 in the 40.

At his size, especially at the prep level, there's few positions along the line that he couldn't play.

His versatility has translated well, at least in the minds of the coaches at Nebraska, as Ben said that yesterday he committed to the program, following a recent offer from NU. For him, despite having offers from various other schools, when the offer came in, it was only a matter of time before he came out and said "I'm a Husker".

"It wasn't really much of a question for me," Ben said of committing to Nebraska after receiving the offer. "It's been where I have wanted to go to since I was a little kid."

Ben joins most of the rest of the state of youngsters growing up, playing in the backyard, pretending to be one of their Husker Heroes. What made this a done deal for Martin, though, wasn't just the offer that he got recently, but the attention he's had since the day he left the camp during the summer. "They have been recruiting me pretty much the whole time," Martin said. "Coach Downing and I have been in contact a lot during that and I have been to three games unofficially."

"I kind of thought they might offer, but I guess you don't really know they will until you actually get it."

Once the offered laid in his hand and he knew that the future he had been dreaming about was not just possible, but real, Ben couldn't resist a smile. Heck, he probably wanted to jump through the ceiling. It's one thing to hear about how you might get this or that, but when it's real, that's when it hits home for you. "I was pretty pumped," he said. "That's really what you want and what you work for and to finally see it, yeah, I guess you could say I was pretty excited."

That means Ben's had a pretty good year, because his Lincoln Southwest Silver Hawks did pretty well themselves. In just their fourth year of existence, Ben and his team steamrolled all the way to the state title game, a place they'd never been before.

The loss to Millard North was bitter, but from where they were four years ago - a high school expansion team, this was something special. "It was great to be there, but we really set that as our goal at the beginning of the year," Martin said. "That was where we wanted to be, but Millard North just played real well and we made some mistakes, but we know we gave it our best effort and it was great to get where we hadn't been before."

What's kind of funny, but illustrates Martin's athleticism is that he's didn't commit as an offensive lineman. He didn't even commit as a defensive end. He committed, but where he'll play is currently up in the air. It doesn't matter to Martin, as he's played both sides and while being a "Blackshirt" is something any young man in Nebraska wants to be, he's open to whatever arises. "I just want to be able to help and I'll play wherever," Ben said. "I don't really care which side it is, because I enjoy both."

For the Silver Hawks, Ben showed that versatility on both sides, first helping to lead the Silver Hawks to 5,100 yards of total offense this season, and on defense, Ben tallied 27 unassisted tackles, 39 assisted, six of those behind the line of scrimmage for a total loss of 47 yards. Martin Also earned All-State from the Omaha World Herald and Super State from the Lincoln Journal Star, both as an offensive lineman.

Ben's been to the University plenty of times, but the next time he goes back, whether it be as an official or unofficial guest, it will feel a little different than it has before. He'll walk into that stadium, see the field where he's dreamt of playing and the stands, where he has been, only wishing that he could on the field, looking at the vaunted "Sea of Red" rather than the other way around.

This time around he'll know he's a Husker. He'll one day where that helmet with the simple "N" and he'll run out onto the field as the crowd he was a part of cheering, now cheers for him. That's not bad, is it? Not for him, because he knows his dream did in fact come true.

"You grow up wanting to be there and that's really what I wanted," Ben said. "The tradition, the players, the fans – just everything. When they offered, I knew that's where I wanted to be. Now, I just can't wait to get there."

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