Greer Martini was the first member of Notre Dame’s 23-man recruiting class in 2014 to verbally commit to the Irish. Scout ranked the four-star prospect out of Woodberry Forest, Va., as the No. 31 outside linebacker in the country.
Martini made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2014 when Brian VanGorder used him as one of his triple-option defenders in his first career start against Navy. Martini returned to the starting lineup in the final regular season game of the year at USC when injuries hit the Irish defense hard.
Despite limited playing time, Martini finished with 26 tackles, two for lost yardage, as a freshman. He saw action in all 13 games as a sophomore, starting four, and finishing with 35 stops and two-and-a-half tackles for loss. His nine tackles against Navy in ’15 tied his high-water mark as a freshman against the Midshipmen.
Martini shared the Will linebacker position in ’16 with Te’von Coney with Martini starting four games and Coney eight. Martini finished fifth on the team in tackles with 55, including three sacks. He set a personal high for tackles in a game with 11 versus Navy. He tied for third on the team in tackles for loss with seven.
• Class: Senior (Eligibility: 1)
• On The Depth Chart: Martini worked predominately with the No. 1 unit at Buck linebacker this spring in tandem with Te’von Coney.
• Post-Spring Status: Ascending
MARTINI AT HIS BEST
Martini has played in 38 games for the Irish. Of his 116 career tackles, 29 of his stops – exactly 25 percent – have come in his three games against Navy. He set a personal high of 11 tackles against Navy last year, followed by another nine the week after against Army, another option attack.
Martini also had six stops against Stanford in ’16, including two of his three sacks on the season.
“(Nyles Morgan and Martini) are both alpha guys for us, kind of patrolling things, the little things as we work on the details. I’m really pleased with them. Those guys are an extension of me. I set the course and those guys drive the ship. I’m very grateful to have those two in the room.” – LB coach Clark Lea
BEST CASE SCENARIO
Martini certainly looked like the choice to get the first call at Buck linebacker this spring, but Coney actually started twice as many games as Martini last season. With new defensive coordinator Mike Elko, Martini – with his 6-foot-3, 240-pound size – could very well be Elko’s first and preferred choice at Buck linebacker.
WORST CASE SCENARIO
Even if Coney were to emerge as the starter at Buck, Martini would have a very active role on the Irish defense. One of those two would get the first call spelling Nyles Morgan at Mike linebacker. Because of his size advantage over Coney, Martini likely will be tabbed to be the swingman between the two inside linebacker positions while maintaining and active and productive role on special teams.
In 2013, 6-foot-4, 230-pound inside linebacker Jarrett Grace had become a sturdy mainstay in the middle of the Notre Dame defense, recording 40 tackles in the first six games of his red-shirt sophomore season. A catastrophic injury against Arizona State in Arlington, Texas sent Grace on a two-year odyssey of recovery.
Grace was trending toward captainship as a red-shirt junior in ’14 when the injury struck. Built along the same lines, Grace – like Martini – would have been bestowed the honor of Notre Dame captain had it not been for the injury. In terms of size, leadership and sound play, the two are/were comparable players with Martini offering a bit more mobility.