Youthful Confidence

Ole Miss Defensive Tackle Carlton Martin took a redshirt in 2010. After a year of watching, learning and working, he feels he's ready for the rigors of the SEC.

From the neck up, Ole Miss redshirt freshman Defensive Tackle Carlton Martin doesn't look like an SEC DL.

With a mouth full of braces and no hint that he's shaving yet, Martin appears to be more prepared for a Boy Scout outing than battling the behemoths in the trenches of college football.

But, as he proved in spring training before a concussion cut that adventure short by a few days, there's nothing boyish about Martin when he puts on his pads.

In roughly a couple of weeks of spring ball, Martin worked his way up the depth chart and was playing with the first team defense before the bell ringer sidelined him.

Now, he's preparing himself for his mini-comeback by working hard in the offseason.

"I'm over the concussion, totally," said the softspoken Martin. "There are no after affects of the concussion.

"I wish I hadn't missed the practice time I did, but I don't think it hurt me that much. I will be ready when the season comes around."

Martin's goals are simple, as he explains.

Carlton Martin
Chuck Rounsaville
"It's all about working hard, moving forward," he explained. "You can't take a step backwards. Get stronger, get quicker, keep developing techniques, work on everything."

Martin was prepared to play as a true freshman. He originally thought he was ticketed to contribute his first year as a Rebel out of Madison Central, but it didn't work out that way.

"I thought I was going to play a little bit last year, but when I saw (Jerrell) Powe and those guys I knew it would be best for me to learn from them," he stated. "At times, it was frustrating - I hated sitting at home on weekends, but in retrospect it was better for me to redshirt.

"I was able to get bigger and develop more."

Martin reported last year around 280 pounds. He's now around 292 with a goal of 295.

"The coaches want me at 295 pounds, ideally. I'm close to getting there," he said quietly. "I believe I am strong enough to play - I bench about 415 pounds and squat about 550. I want to improve on that, but it's a good place to be now."

In spring, Martin moved up the food chain due to his ability to make things happen, to make plays.

That ability is based on a combination of quickness, strength and technique.

"I think my speed and strength combined allow me to make plays," said Martin. "I try to get offensive linemen off-balance with a quick move. In high school, it's all about the bull rush. Here, it's more about technique and quickness combined with strength and staying balanced so you don't get knocked off your feet easily."

Balance and keeping his feet is something he learned from the older DTs last year, particularly Powe.

"They helped me with my get-off, my techniques and my footwork. I used to lose my balance a lot and fall down, but now I keep my balance better, I play lower and I get off the ball quicker. It all helps," Martin noted. "The offensive linemen on this level are more experienced and know all the tricks. They will lock on to you and you have to use good technique to get them off of you and to put yourself in position to make a play."

Martin's climb up the depth chart was accompanied by the ascent of his high school teammate and fellow DT Bryon Bennett, who also took a redshirt in 2010.

"Bryon got bigger and stronger and that helped him," said Martin. "I think we are going to be pretty good at DT with Uriah (Grant), Justin (Smith), Corey (Gaines), Gilbert (Pena) and me and Bryon.

"I think we can have a good rotation and everyone can get reps so we can all stay fresh during games and throughout the season."

Martin pays little attention to the preseason prognosticators who pick the Rebels near the bottom of the SEC West, except to use the lack of respect for one thing.

"I don't listen to all that stuff, but I do use it as motivation to get better," he closed. "We will keep working hard and we'll see where that takes us."

When the season opens, the Rebels just might be lining up with baby-faced Carlton Martin at one defensive tackle position.

If he earns that status in August, don't let his looks fool you.

He'll be ready for the challenge.

OM Spirit Top Stories