ND A to Z: Greer Martini

Despite limited opportunities to play beyond special teams, Martini has made the most of his 26 games/six starts with 61 tackles and 4½ tackles for loss.

A linebacker/tight end out of Woodberry Forest (Va.) School, Martini helped lead his team to the Virginia Prep League crown in 2013 with 92 tackles, including 17 in one victory.

Martini was a Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I all-state pick at linebacker as both a junior and a senior. He made his first mark as a sophomore when he finished with 74 tackles, five fumble recoveries (two returned for TDs) and three interceptions.

A high school teammate of former Irish players C.J. Prosise and Doug Randolph, Martini has played in all 26 games the last two seasons, including six starts. For one who has played limited, sporadic minutes, his 61 career tackles – including 36 solo stops – is noteworthy.

Martini has been the choice of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder against option-based offenses with three of his six starts coming against Navy (twice) and Georgia Tech.

Martini missed spring drills in March-April as he recovered from shoulder surgery. He is expected to compete for playing time at Sam linebacker and for a starting job at Will linebacker.

Martini uses summer strength and conditioning to get his shoulder back to 100 percent and overtakes sophomore Te’von Coney -- who also is recovering from shoulder surgery -- at Will linebacker. Martini’s size, athleticism and veteran know-how allow him to move past the talented but raw Coney.

Martini remains Notre Dame’s top linebacker off the bench and continues his role as Notre Dame’s option specialist versus Navy in the ninth game of the season. He also plays a significant role on special teams.

Although Martini has accrued numbers at a much faster pace through the first half of his collegiate career, his size and game are reminiscent of 1989-92 linebacker Brian Ratigan, a 6-foot-4, 226-pound out of Iowa who found himself caught behind some talented players in the early ‘90s such as Ned Bolcar, Michael Stonebreaker, Demetrius DuBose, Anthony Peterson and Pete Bercich.

Ratigan notched 50 tackles in his final two years with the Irish with three quarterback hurries, four passes broken up, 1.5 sacks and an interception. (Note: Ratigan is in his ninth year as head of orthopedic sports medicine for Notre Dame football.)

Martini’s prep rankings varied among recruiting services. Scout listed him as the No. 31 outside linebacker and a four-star prospect. The fact he’s not projected as a starter heading into his junior season puts him behind schedule, although his contributions against option-based offenses in 2014 (Navy) and 2015 (Georgia Tech and Navy) were significant.

Martini tied a career-high with nine stops against Navy last season, equaling his tackle total (with a career-high six unassisted stops) in his starting debut against the Midshipmen in the eighth game of his freshman season. He also made eight tackles in his first start of ’15 against Georgia Tech (Game 3) and then added another eight stops in a reserve role against UMass the following week.

“I just got an opportunity to play against the triple-option. That was kind of like my thing that I was going to get on the field for, so I became good at it. I would love to be able to translate this into playing time against other teams we play. If I do get an opportunity, I’m going to play the same way I play against the option. But I feel like I could play, whether it’s spread or triple-option or whatever.”
-- Martini following nine-tackle performance vs. Navy 2015

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