Irish A-to-Z: Greer Martini

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The first recruit to join the 2014 recruiting class, Greer Martini may have been envisioned as a 3-4 linebacker in Bob Diaco’s scheme, but he very quickly showed he could play anywhere the rebooted Irish defense needed him. While he wasn’t the highest-ranked recruit (likely impacted by pledging his commitment nearly two years early), Martini showed himself to be a key piece of depth, especially with bodies falling left and right as Brian VanGorder’s defense imploded.

Heading into 2015, Martini’s path to the field looks like a crowded one. But his versatility—not to mention power and athleticism that is unique for the position—makes him a capable contributor at a number of linebacker spots.

As the Irish defense evolves in year two of the VanGorder era, let’s see where Martini fits in.

 

GREER MARTINI
6’2.5″, 240 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 48, LB

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A three-star prospect who didn’t find a place on any Top 250 lists, Martini still had offers from Maryland, N.C. State and Virginia Tech when he committed to Notre Dame after his sophomore season. Consider the RKG mold when you look at Martini, something Brian Kelly confirmed on Signing Day.

“Greer Martini is one of the smarter defensive players we signed,” Kelly said. “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.”

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2014): Played in all 13 games, starting against Navy and USC. One of five true freshmen to notch at least 12 tackles. Had 26 tackles, two TFLs and a sack against Louisville. A season-high nine tackles against Navy.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Martini not only played in 2014, he started two games. Not too many people saw that happening, me included.

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.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

Martini looks a lot like Dan Fox to me. A nice sized athlete who can move sideline to sideline, very much an interior linebacker built for today’s game. (Newsflash: Fox is playing in the NFL right now, in season two as an undrafted free agent for the New York Giants.) Unlike Fox, Martini is playing in a 4-3 scheme, and competing with fleet-footed linebackers like James Onwualu and Jaylon Smith for playing time.

Martini moved around the Irish defense this spring, spending some time at the strongside spot as a potential big-bodied replacement for Onwualu. He’ll also have a chance to provide depth at the Will spot, with his 240-pound frame capable of delivering a blow and holding his own in the trenches.

There will be better looking football players on the roster for as long as Martini is on campus. But this is a productive player, and one who very quickly showed himself to be trusted by this coaching staff.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

Expect to see Martini do more of the little things for the Irish in 2015. He very quickly established himself as a trusted freshman. He was the first rookie to see the field in his class. He also managed to appear in all 13 games, with two starts another indicator that he caught on to the defense quickly—while also showing special teams value.

That value will make him a fixture on Scott Booker’s run units. And Martini will also see plenty of playing time against the option. With run-powered attacks coming against Navy, Georgia Tech (and likely Boston College), Martini will be an in-the-trenches type, capable of taking Onwualu off the field, and also sliding inside if needed. Martini’s nine tackles as a true freshman against Navy triggerman extraordinaire Keenan Reynolds is probably one of the more overlooked performances of the season.

I like underdogs and have always liked Martini. So while most looked at this freshman class of linebackers and wonder how long it’ll take them to jump the line, I see Martini as a key contributor and potential starter in the future.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C