Ohio High Top 100 Countdown: No. 1

At this point in the recruiting process, most fans know who the top player in the state of Ohio is. Therefore, it is no surprise to reveal defensive end Ben Martin of Cincinnati LaSalle as Ohio's top prospect this year. Martin's offers are impressive, as is what he can do on the field.

EDITOR'S NOTE – Today we complete our 14-part series where we unveil the top 101 football prospects in Ohio's Class of 2007. These rankings were assembled by Bucknuts and Ohio High recruiting editor Duane Long. They were originally published in the May 2006 edition of Ohio High magazine. Here is the final installment with a look at the player ranked No. 1 in the state.

1. ***** Ben Martin
6-5 225 DE Cincinnati LaSalle

I can go on and on about Ben Martin but there is really only one thing that needs to be remembered about him. This is the best defensive end prospect I have ever seen in Ohio.

Martin has the ideal body for a defensive end - long and lean with room to grow. This is a 6-5, 225 pound kid that runs on the Lancers' 4x100 relay team. That is pretty mind boggling. His weight is still listed as 225 but he looks like he has filled out some.

Martin had 28 solo tackles, 42 assists, 10 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, three batted down passes and four caused fumbles in 2005. Those are great numbers for a 4-3 defensive end but Martin is playing in a 3-4. He was no slouch against the run as a sophomore but he showed he was a complete player last year. That is quite impressive considering how much opposing teams ran away from him and schemed to avoid him. Teams that did try to run at him found a tough, strong, smarter player.
He explodes out of his stance and has that first step that is crucial for a pass rusher. Martin has the motor that I think is essential in a top defensive player and has the top end speed that makes his play to the whistle motor that much more of a weapon.

If there is a better defensive end in the country, I need to see him. I don't think we have ever seen an Ohio defensive end rated the number one defensive end in the country, but Martin could be. He is a sure national top 100 player.

Ohio State and Notre Dame had already offered Martin as of press time, and Michigan and Florida said offers are on the way. That is just a start. Every major program in the country will be after this difference maker but I think it is going to come down to Notre Dame and Ohio State. It will be a close to call.

Martin is a good enough athlete that he has a basketball offer from Cincinnati and he carries a 3.4 GPA.

Update: Martin recently appeared on "The Mike Frank Show," an Internet radio show produced by IrishEyes.com publisher Mike Frank.

"Notre Dame sent my first offer (on paper), but I think (Cincinnati) was the first school to offer," Martin said.

He listed offers from Florida, Tennessee, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Michigan, among others.

"I have been to Ohio State," he said. "I went up there for a day and it was really nice. I really liked the visit. I got the tour from Coach Tressel and he showed me everything. I got to shadow one of the players, Lawrence Wilson. That was fun doing that.

"It's so big and there are so many people and so many things to do. You could get lost in it. You have to remember why you came there – to play football and to get a degree."

Martin also discussed an unofficial visit to Notre Dame.

"I went to Notre Dame, and that was fun, too," he said. "I got a chance to stay there overnight and to go to one of the practices. I got to talk to all of the coaches. It was close to my old home city, Gary, Ind. It was like going from my high school, a small high school, to a small college. I like that, too.

"Those were two nice visits."

Martin said he would like to make unofficial visits to Michigan, Florida and Tennessee this summer.

Martin talked about what he looks for on visits.

"You try and see what kind of people they are," he said. "You really talk to the coaches and try to get a feel for the position coach. You see what his players say about him. You want to see how the program really is."

Martin talked about when he plans to announce his verbal commitment.

"Whenever I know that a school is right for me, that's when I will make my choice," he said. "I don't know when that will be. Whenever I know what school I am comfortable with, that's when I will make my choice. I don't know if that will be now, next week or in three months.

"I could (take official visits). But if I figure out in the middle of the summer where I want to go, I will commit then. But if I don't, I guess I'll just wait it out and take my official visits."

He discussed the factors he will weigh with his college choice.

"Probably the coaching staff, probably playing time and how soon I can get on the field," he said. "Probably just a winning program."

Martin was asked if it was fair to say he will choose from between Notre Dame and Ohio State.

"Right now, it's not a fair statement, but it's close," he said. "I'm also looking at some others."

Here is a link to that radio interview:

http://ohiostate.scout.com/2/531359.html

Bucknuts subscribers can click on the link below for Martin's bio page in the Scout.com database. That page contains several video links of Martin in action last year for LaSalle:

http://scout.scout.com/a.z?s=145&p=8&c=1&nid=1924776

Here is a link for more information on how to subscribe to Ohio High magazine (subscribe now to get the July football preview edition, due out in mid-June):

http://www.jjhuddle.com/stories/OhioHighAnnouncement.htm


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