Martin showcased Big-Time Skills In Columbus

Just a stone's throw away from the campus of The Ohio State University, Ben Martin of Cincinnati La Salle showed the DeSales Stallions and everyone else at the game why he's so highly regarded around the state in the recruiting circles. From his linebacker position, Martin frequently pressured the QB and caused havoc in the backfield. Here's the latest update on his recruiting situation.

Regarded by many as the top college prospect in the state of Ohio, Ben Martin of Cincinnati La Salle High School showcased his prodigious defensive skills in Columbus this past weekend in a 30-9 rout over St. Francis DeSales.

Martin, who made a name for himself last year as a prolific pass-rushing defensive end, has successfully made the transition to linebacker this season.

"Playing linebacker this year was a big change for me. It took me a while but I'm finally getting used to playing linebacker," Martin said. "I like it now. I like it a lot more now."

Despite his affection for his new position on the Lancer defense, Martin admitted that playing defensive end is his preferred position at the next level.

"For me it's end. That's my spot. I love playing (end)," said Martin when he was asked at what position he felt more comfortable. "Hopefully I'll get to play that or linebacker in college. But as long as I'm playing I'm happy."

The 30-9 victory over DeSales left a great taste in Martin's mouth after the game. The Lancers were equally impressive on offense and defense in their win over the Stallions.

"The victory tonight means a lot for me and my teammates because we're all in this together," he said. "This week we came together, had a good week of practice, and we just showed what we can do."

Beating a top-ranked team, albeit in Division III, was definitely a bright spot on their frustrating 4-5 season.

"It was a tough season and a little disappointing but I'm just happy that we're trying to finish strong," Martin said. "And we're going to finish strong!"

On an individual basis, however, Martin's stock in the recruiting circles has been strong all season long. He's still Ohio High Magazine's top-rated prospect in the state and he came into the season that way.

"He's obviously one of the best players that I've ever had as a head football coach," said La Salle head coach Tom Grippa, who's also tutored Jason Ott and Matt Bonhaus at the high school level. "He's fast, he's athletic and he's all over the field as you can see. I'm just real proud of Ben."

Martin just seems to have a knack for taking all of the accolades thrown in his direction in stride.

"For me, I just try to stay level. When I'm with my friends we don't talk about me being number one and stuff like that," he said. "I just try to stay grounded. My friends and my brother keep me grounded. I'm just real focused on my team and doing good with my team. And that's what I'm all team."

According to his coach, Martin is almost too good to be true.

"He's a better person than he is a player," Grippa said. "He's a great kid, he cares about his teammates, he's conscientious and I think, character-wise, he's the best player on the team. He's unbelievable. He's got so much class. Whoever gets Ben is going to get a jewel of a kid."

Although he's aware of a lot of the good things that are being written and said about him, Martin tries not to pay a lot of attention to it.

"I try not to get caught up in all that stuff because I don't want to get the big head and all like that," he said. "It's a great honor to be number one because, if I wasn't, nobody would be here looking at me. So I'm just happy that it is me and not somebody else."

And as the highest-ranked player in Ohio who has yet to commit to any university, Martin acknowledges that he has a very tough decision on his hands.

"For me it's going to be really tough. I'm going to have to go where my heart takes me, where I feel comfortable," Martin said. "With all of the schools (he's considering) I can't make a wrong choice but I just have to see where I fit the best."

With schools like Ohio State and Notre Dame being frequently mentioned as the ultimate destination for him next season, Martin is aware, because of the relationships that he's established, that somebody is ultimately going to be disappointed.

"My decision is going to be based on what I feel," he said. "I'm sorry if I disappoint people but that's life. It won't be the first time they get disappointed I'm sure."

Martin claims that he's very comfortable with the pace and the progress of the recruiting process to this point.

"It's not overwhelming me or anything like that," he said. "So I'm just staying focused and doing what's best for me right now."

The fact the Martin's parents moved to Gary, Indiana before the current school season was underway has some people thinking that Notre Dame will eventually win the Ben Martin lottery.

"That's not a big deal for me right now," said Martin who is currently living with his brother in Cincinnati. "I'm independent, I'm staying here and I'm still maintaining my grades - I got five A's and a B. So I'm focused no matter where I am so it doesn't matter to me where my parents are."

It's obviously exciting for Martin to be such a much-sought-after commodity in the recruiting world.

"For me it's a good experience. I'm just happy to be going through it," Martin said. "Most people say it's a burden or they get overwhelmed but not me. I like going through the experience of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm just happy that it's happening to me."

At this stage in the process, Martin acknowledges that there are at least four teams still in the running.

"There's probably another one floating around out there somewhere but we'll see what happens," Martin said. "Right now there's Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida and Tennessee."

He doesn't claim to have any real strategy at this point.

"I'm going to try to get all of the visits in before basketball season so we'll see what happens," said Martin, who mentioned that he will visit Ohio State officially at some point after he makes an unofficial visit there for the Michigan game. "I'm making all of them for sure."

His recent unofficial trip to Notre Dame went well.

"It went pretty well," he said. "It's a really nice campus, they have really nice coaches and I have nothing but good things to say about them. I just got a better feel for the place but nothing really swayed me."

Martin claims to have no special feeling right now about where he's eventually going to end up.

"Sometimes I want to have a feeling but it just don't come to me," Martin said. "So I'm going to have to pray on it and go with my gut feeling."

And for those people who already claim to know where exactly Martin is going to go?

"They don't know," he said. "People ask me all the time if I know and they're like, ‘Ben can you tell me,' and I'm like, ‘I would tell you and I would tell everybody else if I knew already.' So that question is getting a little old for me."

When he's ready to decide, he said he'll make his decision known. At this particular time he doesn't really have any intention of making that announcement at the Army All-American Bowl. He was the only player from Ohio selected to play in the Jan. 6, 2007 All-Star game as of now at least.

"I could (do it there) but it's not a big deal for me to announce at the game," said Martin who is honored to have the chance to play in that prestigious national all-star game. "Whenever I'm ready I'll stop wasting the coaches time and wasting my time and I'll just commit. I don't know (when) right now, I honestly don't know."

When his football season is over for him after this weekend, Martin will turn in his football cleats for a pair of sneakers.

"Basketball for me is a big deal," said the 6-5, 235-pounder who plays the center position on the hardwood for La Salle. "I love my basketball team and my basketball coaches and I believe we're going to have a pretty good team this year. So I'm looking forward to that too."

He's just enjoying life right now.

"It's very exciting and I just feel real honored right now to be in this position and to be the number one player in the state," Martin said. "It's a great life for me right now."

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