Swagger was a common theme during the Miami football program’s domination of college football during the late 1980s, early 1990s and early 2000s. It’s a big reason why quarterback Tate Martell chose Coral Gables when he transferred from Ohio State.
Tate Martell played his high school football at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas with his Miami football teammates Brevin Jordan and Bubba Bolden before matriculating at Ohio State. Jordan said of Martell that he has “high energy, (and is) cocky. That makes the 5’11 little general, as wide receiver Mike Harley dubbed him, perfect at UM.
Martell left Ohio State following a lot of fanfare entering college. He was the second-ranked dual-threat QB in the Class of 2017. Martell redshirted as a Freshman before backing up Heisman Trophy third-place finisher Dwayne Haskins in 2018. In his first meeting with reporters, Martell made it clear he is not the savior of Miami football.
No starter has been anointed by new Miami offensive coordinator Dan Enos. Martell is battling with N’Kosi Perry who started six games in 2018 and rising redshirt freshman Jarren Williams who only played in one game last season. The battle between the three is likely to endure through summer training camp.
All three have been inconsistent through the first four practices this spring. Martell’s throws have been off the mark at times and overthrowing receivers at others. Perry has continued to struggle with his accuracy. He completed only 50.1 percent of his passes in 2018. Williams is known for his accuracy and has shown that this spring.
Martell wanted to play at Miami coming out of high school. He made the Hurricanes one of his seven finalists even though he hadn’t been contacted by the previous coaching regime. Martell discussed his recruiting strategy with the Miami Herald
“That was my way of trying to get them to talk to me…I put Miami in my top seven without even talking to them because I wanted to come here…The history and the swagger, the people play with here…That’s kind of what intrigued me from the jump.”
Jordan elaborated on what makes Martell and a good leader and on his confident attitude. The praise Martell has received makes him the ideal Hurricane. You can easily imagine him having played with Michael Irvin, Randall Hill or Lamar Thomas. Three wide receivers who personified the Miami swagger in the 1980s and ’90s.
“He’s a 5-11 little white dude with tattoos, running around with high energy, cocky. Just loves the swag. His swag is so Miami…Tate, he’s going to fit in and he’s elite. Elite. Just simple as that. Elite.”
Martell comes to Miami having to learn a different offense, as do Perry and Williams with Enos being new to the Miami football staff. The changes from Ohio State are significant. Martell discussed his adjustments with the Herald after practice on Tuesday.
“For me, the hardest thing is I haven’t done anything under center since sophomore year of high school, so getting back to not so much one-step drops because we did it different at Ohio State, where I did normally a drop step with my left foot and you’re hanging on your right foot and just go through your progressions in shotgun,”
That’s why I’ve been staying after practice to work on that stuff with footwork under center and stuff. Today was my best day by far because of just being able to put a little bit of extra work into it, and coach [Dan] Enos gave me pointers.
It’s a West Coast passing system. Under center, shotgun — you have it all in this system. You can go pull up clips of any pretty much NFL system and you’ll see a lot of it that’s in this system.”
Martell could be a difference maker for the Hurricanes. Perry and the graduated Malik Rosier’s play in 2018
Head coach Manny Diaz and Enos felt that led to the Hurricanes falling from 10-3 in 2017 to 7-6 last season. Martell met with Enos before committing to Miami. He discussed why with Christy Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel.
“If everything worked out when I was kind of going through the process, when I was visiting schools, if it checked off all the boxes that I wanted, then this is where I was coming,” the 21-year-old quarterback said.
Martell continued to elaborate on why he chose Miami with the Herald.
“When I decided I wanted to come here, it was the last thing that I wanted to do and I wanted to make sure I got a lot of time with sitting down with Coach Enos, and seeing how they ran their offense and what was it all about.
That was pretty much the deciding factor that I was able to tell Coach Diaz by the time I left here that I wanted to come because that’s the biggest part for me.”
The match of the Miami football program needing to add a quarterback and Martell needing a school was perfect timing. The Hurricanes lost backup QB Cade Weldon who decided to transfer shortly before spring practice. Without Martell, Miami would have Williams and Perry as the only scholarship QBs this spring.
Martell is on the Miami football team to compete to be the starting QB. He is not likely to fall below second string if Perry or Williams becomes the starter. He didn’t transfer to Miami to be third-string. He also has to earn it if he is going to become the starter. It won’t just be handed to him.
the best views come after the hardest climbs.. pic.twitter.com/RCFNDTdx6d
— TATE MARTELL (@TheTateMartell) March 28, 2019
Martell realizes that and told Chirinos he is not in Coral Gables to be the savior of the Miami football program. Fans need to temper expectations before Martell gets a bust in Miami Sports Hall of Fame. The Hurricanes have a long, long way to go before becoming QB U again. Martell is very self-aware.
“I’m not sitting here looking at myself as, ‘Oh, I have to come in here and save the program. I feel like we have to just follow the plan that coach Diaz has in place and offensively, we need to execute what coach Enos runs at a high level and we’ll be perfectly fine.”
I’m excited for this season and what this team has right now. We’re on a good path. It’s taking a little bit of time. It’s not going to be easy. But I promise you, we’ll be ready, the way that we’re going and how we’re working right now.”
Martell and the Hurricanes fan base are on the same page with be excited for the 2019 season. The demoralization of getting obliterated by Wisconsin in the Pinstripe bowl evolved into cautious optimism 72 hours later when Diaz was hired to replace Richt. Now the Hurricanes and Martell have to go out and prove it this fall.