'08 Unwrapped: Jonathan Martin

We are approaching that time of year when "stealth" recruits, who previously had been flying under the radar on Stanford's recruiting board, come out of the woodwork. A big one is now revealed as a Los Angeles offensive tackle comes clean on his Cardinal dream.

Rumors have recently been flying regarding whether North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake's Jonathan Martin has backed off of a June commitment to UCLAThe Bootleg spoke with Martin on Sunday evening to confirm the latest developments in his recruitment.

"I've already talked to the UCLA coaches and I told them that I am going to de-commit and open up my recruiting," Martin reveals. "And I said specifically that if I get into Stanford, then that's where I'm going to end up going. I'm not in academically yet, but once I hear that, then I'll definitely commit for sure to play football for Stanford."

For Stanford fans, the news that an athletic 3-star offensive tackle plans to commit to Stanford if admitted comes as a very pleasant surprise. When Martin committed to UCLA at the beginning of the summer, Stanford did not merit a mention. Nearly half a year later, with scant public indication of Stanford's involvement in his recruitment, Martin appears on the verge of committing to the Cardinal.

Martin, who friends and teammates affectionately refer to as "Moose," would give Stanford a 6'6.5", 270-pound tackle in a year in which the Cardinal looked like they might not land any tackles. Not just a big body, Martin has received rave reviews for athleticism and reports offers from UCLA, Ole Miss, Virginia, Boise State, Utah, and Utah State. Scout.com ranks him as the #55 offensive tackle in the nation and #113 overall recruit in the West.

"I consider myself an intelligent lineman, always knowing how to adjust, when the defense adjusts, our calls," Martin ticks off in describing his cerebral strengths. "I'm the strong-side tackle, not just the left tackle, so I make the calls for the whole strong side of the line of how we're gonna block. My athleticism is also pretty good, although I do want to improve my speed and quickness."

Martin's apparent ability to come into college as a credible prospect at offensive tackle is all the more exciting for Stanford fans given the team's acute need at tackle. Lingering uncertainty regarding whether the last two recruiting classes will yield any Pac-10 tackles makes it highly desirable that Stanford land a tackle or two in this class. Despite this need, however, the Cardinal's latest recruiting successes up front have come with interior prospects, including 4-star interior lineman David DeCastro, 2-star guard Sam Schwartzstein, and Oklahoma transfer Chase Beeler. For his part, Moose Martin cites Stanford's need in this area as an integral part of the coaching staff's recruiting pitch.

"They are saying that they have a real need for tackles since they're limited by who they can recruit because of who qualifies academically," Martin relates. "That's what gets me interested."

"I really like Coach Harbaugh," he continues in describing Stanford's football appeal. "He comes off as cocky sometimes, but I kind of like that, how he's confident in players and takes them to wins, like the big upset at SC."

Of course, Stanford's appeal for Martin extends beyond the football field and into the classroom. With both parents alums of Harvard, academics are understandably important to Martin and largely explain his shift in focus toward Stanford. Before Martin can be assured of his place in Stanford's recruiting class, however, he acknowledges that he must first gain admission to the school. With his sights set on a Stanford education, Martin has been conscientious about the application process.

"I've already sent in my application and I think all my pieces are in, but maybe my teacher recommendations aren't," Martin says. "They said that within the next couple of weeks they'll review it and tell me where I stand. They said that it looks pretty good for me to get in."

Martin's confidence notwithstanding, Stanford fans eager to win the services of a talented offensive tackle will sweat this one out. Eight years ago, Stanford was riding high in the recruitment of fellow Harvard-Westlake product Alex Holmes until the highly-touted tight end received bad news from Stanford admissions. Armed with a reported B-average and a very impressive three-part junior year SAT score of 2060, Martin bears more than a passing resemblance to Holmes.

"I've been pretty much a steady B student throughout high school," Martin offers. "This quarter I stepped it up a little bit. They said they wanted to see an overall improvement in my GPA. I'm not sure what the increase was. I'm usually above a 3.0 student and now through this quarter I think I'm a 3.4 or 3.5 student."

Stanford Football will cross its proverbial fingers as it awaits word on whether Martin's clear academic seriousness, stellar test score, and improving grades will be enough for the green light from the admissions office. In the meantime, with his work in preparing the Stanford application behind him, Martin's focus remains on Harvard-Westlake's current playoff run.

Last week, the Wolverines opened the playoffs with a convincing 42-16 win. On Friday, they continue their quest for a championship with a showdown with the also 8-3 Oak Park Eagles, who Martin describes as "a pretty good team this year." Stay tuned to The Bootleg for more on Moose Martin as his team continues the playoffs and he awaits decisive word from Stanford admissions.

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