Time to shine for Aggie lineman

When Mike Martinez signed with New Mexico State in Feburary 2003, Aggie coaches were on him. And for good reason.

The 6-foot-3, 309-pound offensive lineman from Aurora, Colo., has emerged as the No. 1 center on the depth chart after a solid spring football campaign.

"I made the move to center and it's been a good one," Martinez said. "I've had to learn a lot playing center. I've had to watch a lot of tape and make sure I get down all the different assignments. There is a lot of work to do at center. I have to keep working hard this fall. I had a good spring, but I have to continue the improvements I've made."

Martinez will look to replace last year's starter Andy Dale. Among the other Aggies Martinez is battling for the starting job at center are Matt Vincent, Clay Vincent and Glenn Propst. Propst played some center last year and is also battling for time at left guard.

In High School Martinez was a first team, Class 5A all state pick as a senior at Overland High School. He was also a first team all-Colorado selection and named a Colorado Blue Chip Recruit by the Denver Post. He is also a three-year letterwinner in baseball, earning all-conference honors, and was a letterwinner in wrestling, setting a school record for most consecutive pins with 10.

He was a two-year starter and helped Overland to a combined record of 19-6 in those two seasons. As a junior Overland went 10-3 and advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals and last year the team went 9-3 and advanced to the quarterfinals. Overland runs a split-back, veer, triple option offense. He started at offensive guard and also was the team's long snapper.

"Matt is a very physical player, a very intelligent player," Aggies offensive line coach Keven Lightner said. "He brings a lot to the table for us. He's agile and he's a young player that is improving all the time."

Lightner is hopeful that the line will be very good this year. Last season, the offensive line improved throughout the course of the season and was one of the top units on the team by the end of the season.

"On the right side, we are very good with Steve Subia at guard and Nick Cole at right tackle," Lightner said. "Steve is a proven player at this level and Nick has the potential to be one of the nation's best. On the left side, Kyle Smith played a lot for us last year at tackle and Justin Shopbell is back for us at left guard and he'll contribute. I really feel good about the line going into the season. If we stay healthy, we'll be good."

The Aggies open the season Sept. 4 at Arkansas.

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