2010 Intro: Kareem Martin

ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C. --- Tucked away in a small town right before the Virginia border is one of North Carolina's most versatile jumbo athletes – Kareem Martin.

"Kareem is a pretty special athlete," Roanoke Rapids head coach Russell Weinstein said. "When you're in his height range and you excel in all three sports that you participate in, you're a pretty special young man."

Junior Highlights:
In addition to football, Martin participates in basketball and track. Following his junior football season, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound defensive end was named the Northern Carolina Conference's Defensive Player of the Year. On the hardwood, he averaged nearly a triple-double and was recently named to the all-conference team. Last spring, Martin finished third in NCHSAA's 2A classification in the high jump (personal best: 6'4"); he also runs the 110-meter high hurdles with a personal best of 16.38 seconds.

Martin's athleticism has grabbed the attention of a number of football programs, including Duke, East Carolina Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Stanford, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

"The interest is really picking up," Weinstein said. "I'm starting to get a lot of phone calls on him. And as he makes the combine circuit this spring, it's going to pick up even more."

Duke was the first school to extend a scholarship offer.

"Coach [Marion] Hobby, the defensive coordinator, just happened to be coming through as he was getting out and meeting people," Weinstein said. "Kareem just happened to be at the time in the weight room.

"[Hobby] watched him work out and saw his flexibility and size. He became very, very interested immediately. Once he had the chance to speak to the young man and saw some film on him, they were sold right away."

Shortly thereafter, East Carolina would follow suit by offering a scholarship of its own.

This spring, Martin, who has attended junior days at both his scholarship offering schools, plans to unofficially visit Duke, East Carolina, Virginia, and Virginia Tech – possibly for a spring practice or spring game.

Last summer, Martin attended UNC's camp and worked under the guidance of John Blake.

"He was a great coach to work with," Martin said. "High intensity and he knew what he was talking about."

Martin says this summer he will camp at the schools showing him the most interest at the time.

Ideally, Martin would like to make a verbal commitment before his senior football season. At the moment, he doesn't claim any favorite schools.

"Academics are the first thing," Martin said. "After that, I'm looking for a football program that's on the rise."

A few months prior to the 2007 season, Weinstein became head coach of Roanoke Rapids High. During preseason practice that season, he immediately noticed Martin, then a sophomore.

"At that time, he was a tall thin young man – probably 6-4, 6-4 and a half – but he was fairly athletic," Weinstein said. "He had been on the JV team the year before, but when he came out for football he was very light – he only weighed about 185 pounds – and he was not very strong at the time…

"So my primary intent was to use him on the offensive side of the ball and throw the football to him some whether it is at the tight end position, H-back, or slot-type deal."

However, that preseason, Martin went on to display the tools to be a defensive standout.

"It was very clear to me that he didn't shy away from the contact," Weinstein said. "When we lined him up at defensive end, even as thin as he was at the time, he was still making plays."

Despite his shortcomings, Martin would start at defensive end for Roanoke Rapids that season – and play well.

"He ended up being a pretty good player by the end of his sophomore year, even though he was giving up a lot in body weight and strength," Weinstein said. "He would make up for that with his athleticism."

Following the season, Martin worked hard in the weight room and the results were evident. He entered his junior season at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds – 25 pounds heavier than the season before.

"I was a lot faster and I could shed blocks easier, because of all the work in the weight room," Martin said. "It was just a lot easier to get off the [offensive] tackle and rush the quarterback."

With the addition of strength to his game, Martin thrived. He ended the season with 121 tackles, five sacks, three forced fumbles and two blocked kicks. Those numbers would be even better, but opponents later in the season began to accommodate for Martin.

"It became obvious to us as the season went on a lot of teams started game-planning to run away from Kareem," Martin said. "His opportunity to make plays on defense became less and less as the year went on, because teams found out that it was difficult to get outside of him or even run directly at him. He would get double-teamed an awful lot."

Martin also saw a part-time role on offense at both slot receiver and tight end. He caught 12 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown.

Weinstein figures to use Martin in the same capacity this season.

Kareem Martin

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