After a down junior year where Robert Martin took a backseat, the offseason refocused the rising Rutgers senior.
Martin broke out as a leading rusher through his first two seasons before his workload decreased in 2016. His production dropped to only six starts and a pair of touchdowns.
During an offseason of reflection, Martin readjusted. He turned disappointment into motivation.
“I know what I’m capable of doing,” Martin said. “I got bigger, I got faster, I got stronger and I’m just really looking forward to the summer because coach (Kenny Parker) is going to get me right, he’s going to get all of us right. Like I said, my mind’s focused, I’m buying in and sky’s the limit.”
The reevaluation started off the field with Parker.
“He’s just definitely been a good mentor,” Martin said of Parker. “He’s just pushing me and we’re seeing eye to eye on a lot of things, and I like coming to work and just knowing that he knows what he’s talking about, he knows what he’s doing and he’s going to get us right.”
On top of the continuous physical evolution, Martin said Parker helped him get back on the right path.
“He was like the second head coach last year, and we’re around them guys 24/7,” Martin said. “So whatever he sees, he’s going to let the coaches know. So he plays a big part, and just being on the same page as him is a good thing because that’s who the NFL coaches come in and see. They talk to coach KP before they probably even talk to the head coach. So it’s definitely good being on good graces with him, and he’s pushing me and we’re in this thing together.”
Martin returns to Rutgers for his final year comfortable and familiar with Parker and the returning coaches on Chris Ash’s staff.
The 5-foot-11, 213-pound Martin also gelled early with offensive coordinator Jerry Kill and running backs coach Lester Erb.
“He feeds (the running backs),” Martin said of Kill. “He knows how to use the running backs. He brings in fullbacks and tight ends now. We had tight ends last year, but it’s a strong running game. That’s all I can say, a real strong running game. He knows the system … the system looks good.”
As a newcomer coach, Erb wiped the slate clean for Martin when he discussed the running backs Saturday after practice.
Martin continues to develop a bond with Erb, who knows former Rutgers running backs coach Norries Wilson.
“I’m adjusting good,” Martin said. “Coach Erb and coach Wilson know each other. They’re good friends. They’re like the same type of guys, for real — (they want) old fashioned, tough runners. They just want dudes that are going to go out there and do their job, consistently.”