Jul 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
The founding member of the 2014 recruiting class, linebacker Greer Martini enters a football program that looks decidedly different than the one he committed to back in July of 2012. The product of the same Woodberry Forest football program that supplied the Irish with C.J. Prosise and Doug Randolph, Martini was an early target and commitment to Bob Diaco, a prototype linebacker to play on the inside of the 3-4 defense.
The profile for inside linebackers has changed, but the need for a big, physical player like Martini has not. And while Nyles Morgan is expected to get the first opportunity to play on the inside of Brian VanGorder’s defense, Martini helps fill a position of need and walks onto campus with an immediate opportunity to help.
Let’s take a closer look at Martini.
6’3″ 225 lbs.
Martini didn’t rate on the national level, likely a product of a ridiculously early commitment to Notre Dame that took him off many program’s radars. He had offers from Maryland, N.C. State, and Virginia Tech, but never seemed to waver from a commitment he made the summer after his sophomore season.
Martini fits that RKG mold, and Brian Kelly wasn’t afraid to talk about that on Signing Day.
“Greer Martini is one of the smarter defensive players we signed,” Kelly said. “We got a chance to spend some time with him here on campus. His leadership skills, his ability to recognize and really‑‑ you have to have leaders. He’s a really good player, and he’s a really good leader, and he’ll be a very good linebacker for us here at Notre Dame and will also be a guy that makes others around him better.”
Martini racked up stats by the bushel at Woodberry Forest, and played tight end and linebacker for the team. He’s a big enough guy to play linebacker in any system, though you don’t see “elite” athleticism when you watch his highlight tape. (Then again, when you saw C.J. Prosise or Doug Randolph’s high school highlights, you didn’t either — so maybe it’s a product of the competition (or video crew) at the prep school.)
Notre Dame’s staff obviously saw something early in Martini, likely a very good athlete with a perfect frame for an inside linebacker. He was a perfect profile fit at a position that was recruited to said profile. That the staff was willing to accept Martini’s commitment as early as they did — and stuck with him for almost two years — says quite a bit more than any YouTube clip or recruiting ranking.
If it weren’t for the uncertainty at linebacker, I’d have called Martini an absolute lock to redshirt. But with Jarrett Grace’s return still uncertain, and a player like Michael Deeb not making a move during spring practice, who’s to say that Martini can’t be a surprising freshman who picks things up quickly and finds his way onto the field.
In all likelihood, if Martini does see the field, it’s on special teams. He’s the combination of speed and power that can help Scott Booker’s wayward coverage teams. But we thought that about Deeb last year and he spent the year on the sidelines.
Neither Prosise nor Randolph saw the field as freshmen, taking an extra calendar year to get up to the speed of college football. My hunch says that’s going to happen with their former Woodberry Forest teammate, who will jump into competition in the spring.
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Torii Hunter Jr.
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