Thatch is One of the State's Best

If you ever watch football practices at Dudley Senior High in Greensboro, you can see him playing free safety during passing drills. He usually draws the fastest assignment on the offensive side. Time and time again, he makes the smart defensive play. And you can often hear him talking more smack than anyone else on the field.

He's Martel Thatch, one of the top defensive backs in the state, and he knows how to make his presence known. The 6'2", 180-pound free safety is fast (4.4 second-40), but he is also quite strong and can hit harder than most linebackers. With that combination of speed and strength, he could become a dominant safety at the next level and beyond.

"I like to model my game after (hard-hitting New England safety) Lawyer Malloy," says Thatch, "but in man-to-man coverage, I feel I can cover like Deion Sanders."

"Martel is a prototypical free safety," said coach Vincent Floyd. "He's tall, he's got a great body. He's an aggressive kid with great ball skills. And he's also very strong for a defensive back."

Coach Floyd adds that while Thatch will probably play free safety in college, there is a chance that he could outgrow the position with the right weight program. "He has the body to just explode," he says, "but I could see him being a 210-pound safety. He's got a lot of potential – a lot of upside. He's only played three years of football, so I think his upside is tremendous."

It's easy to overlook Thatch when you consider he plays on the same team as Demario Pressley, one of the best defensive linemen in the nation, and Jamaal Edwards, one of the best running backs in the nation. But while Pressley and Edwards may have generated most of the recruiting buzz around the program, coaches and recruiters know Thatch, and many of them have made him a high priority.

He has received offers from UNC, Virginia, Vanderbilt, Clemson, South Carolina, Miami, Florida, Duke and East Carolina. He carries a 3.0 GPA and has already qualified for college eligibility.

With the limited number of scholarships available for the NC State coaching staff and the amount of defensive backs already in the program, it is obvious that Thatch is not a high priority for the Wolfpack at this point. But with so many junior defensive backs and the possibility that one or more could leave early for the professional ranks, State coaches are keeping an eye on Thatch as a possible recruiting option.

Wherever he goes, Floyd knows that he has a bright future ahead of him. "I think he'll do well," he says. "He'll be an asset to somebody's program."

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