The subject: Ben Martin, a 6-5, 230-pound defensive end/linebacker from Cincinnati LaSalle.
What he does best: Martin is the most valuable part of a LaSalle defense that has had to lead the team at times this season. What Martin does best, simply, is provide pressure on the quarterback and help stop the run. He provides the type of pressure that forces opposing offensive linemen to jump early in an effort to try and stop him.
Big, strong and quick, Martin has been switched this season to the linebacker position in an effort to neutralize other teams' attempts to simply run the ball away from him. Frequently double-teamed, Martin still finds ways to get in the backfield. In a week two loss to Northmont (Ohio), he recorded 8 1/2 tackles. On Northmont's final drive of the game, Martin had two tackles and planted quarterback Clay Belton on his back a split-second after he released the ball for the game-winning touchdown.
What to watch His pursuit of the ball. Former Ohio State recruiting coordinator and BuckeyeSports.com contributor Bill Conley said that when watching a defensive end, pay attention to the angles he takes to get to the ball.
On sweeps and stretch plays, Martin does a fantastic job of motoring towards the ball at the correct angle. He caught tailbacks in the backfield on stretch plays to the sideline by getting through a block and taking the right angle towards the ballcarrier.
Simply put, he knows where he needs to be and the quickest way to get there.
Beyond the stats Martin is the unquestioned leader of the LaSalle defense. He leads his team onto the field, makes the calls on defense, draws a double-team on each snap, picks up teammates after making plays and helps players after they make mistakes.
"I'm very vocal," he said. "If I see something I don't like, I'll address my team on it, and if I see something one of my teammates does good, I'm gonna congratulate him on it. I'll be the first one to get on ‘em and the first one to congratulate ‘em."
In addition to his roles on defense, Martin plays on the punt team for LaSalle. After sprinting down the field on a 45-yard punt, he made an eye-opening tackle. With the returner trying to get past him, Martin simply reached out his arm, grabbed hold of him with one hand and slung him to the ground.
The play was called back due to an equipment infraction, but he was still sprinting downfield on the ensuing play.
In week three, Martin battled back spasms that forced him to miss a couple of plays in the first half but still managed to get back on the field.
"It was killing me but I had to stay out there," he said. "I couldn't let my team down."
The opposing game plan Run away from Martin. Plain and simple.
The recruiting process BuckeyeSports.com lists Martin as the No. 2 prospect in the state of Ohio. He has Ohio State, Notre Dame and Florida at the top of his list but is rumored to be going back and forth between the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish. He has no official visits planned yet.
The criticisms Martin has no business splitting time at both linebacker and defensive end. While he projects as an end in college, his high school coach has moved him off the line for about half of the game in an attempt to neutralize the effect of running the ball on the side opposite from Martin.
While this might sound like a good idea in theory, in reality Martin loses his effectiveness at linebacker. Rather than starting in a stance and driving towards the ball, he is standing up and reacting to the play. Simply put, he's playing out of position and while his sheer athletic talent helps him from looking lost, he is a fish out of water.
"I'd rather be a defensive end because that's a simpler job, a lot less responsibility," he said. "Every week I'm working harder and trying to get better in practice. If I just keep reading my keys, I'll be fine."
While on the line, however, Martin has a tendency to get pushed too far outside to be effective, partly due to the constant double-teaming. Despite all this, the kid is the best player on any field he lines up on.
The verdict With a motor that doesn't stop and a nose for finding the ball, Martin is a legitimate top-notch prospect. With all the hype being lavished on him in print, the senior does not disappoint in person.
Mobile, hostile and agile, Martin will be a major grab for whichever college he decides on.