This is not how Tate Martell envisioned his college football career going at all.
It’s been quite the eventful career at this point for the once highly-touted quarterback prospect. After ranking as the fifth best quarterback in his graduation class according to 247Sports (and behind the likes of Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm,) as well as reneging on prior commitments to Washington and Texas A&M, Martell decided to attend Ohio State to play under then-coach Urban Meyer. After redshirting his freshman year and serving as Dwayne Haskins’s backup, it appeared that he would get his chance.
Then Justin Fields proceeded to happen. Another highly-touted QB prospect, Fields would not have an easy road to opportunity at Georgia, so he decided to transfer. And of course, he selected Ohio State, putting Martell’s starting position in jeopardy before he even had a chance to get a foothold on the job.
Martell, knowing he would not get his chance as a Buckeye, entered the transfer portal in January, marking the third time he would switch schools. This time, he elected to join the University of Miami, a school that suffered a disappointing 2018 season and undergoing an abrupt coaching change. The opportunity was there for Martell to seize. The QB room in Miami included promising but underachieving redshirt sophomore N’Kosi Perry and an inexperienced redshirt freshman in Jarren Williams. A strong training camp would give Martell the chance he coveted.
It would not be. On August 12, 2019, the University of Miami announced that Williams would start in the season opener against Florida. Suddenly, Martell found himself competing for the backup role, a demotion he did not take well. The following day, Martell did not show up to practice, as rumors of yet another transfer began to swarm.
This leads us to the question asked: where does Martell go from here? Does he stick it out in Miami and hope for a miracle scenario that leads to him getting the nod at some point? Switch positions a la Braxton Miller or Denard Robinson? Or does he cut his losses and enter the transfer portal once again? It will be difficult regardless of what he chooses, but for the sake of speculation, there are a couple of ideas that make some sense.
The slot receiver route is open, and success can be found down that path (I’m looking directly at you, Julian Edelman.) However, if he does want to stick the QB route and wants a clear path to start, it would be easier to kick the ego to the curb and aim for a Group of Five school. It just so happens that there’s a perfect fit down the rabbit hole. Imagine if Martell decides to transfer…to UNLV.
Martell played his high school football in Las Vegas at Bishop Gorman. Guess who was head coach of Gorman at the time? Tony Sanchez, who just so happens to be UNLV’s current head coach. Of course, Sanchez is in the position for now. UNLV has not broken out yet, and with the desires of being a better-looking program amplified by moving to the Raiders’ new stadium next year, Sanchez needs to clinch a bowl berth to have a prayer at sticking around. If he does stay, he could use a home run swing, and Martell would be a perfect candidate in that department.
The current starting QB at UNLV, Armani Rogers, has struggled to stay healthy, an unfortunate outcome considering that he has flashed Lamar Jackson-esque ability on the field. With that in mind, Martell slides into a position where he has familiarity with the system and a good shot at starting games. As far as salvaging a career goes, Martell can do a lot worse.
In the end, Martell knows what’s best for himself and his career, so maybe these ideas are just speculating for the sake of it. However, he also knows that the clock is ticking on his chances of future success. Whatever he decides to do, he needs to be one hundred percent sure it’s the right decision.