Healthy Martin ready to step forward for Razorbacks

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Arkansas receiver Brandon Martin runs after a catch during a game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas receiver Brandon Martin runs after a catch during a game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

— It may have been a tough 41-9 loss at No. 1 Alabama, but Arkansas finally got the chance to unveil sophomore wide receiver Brandon Martin in Tuscaloosa last Saturday.

Martin (6-4, 219), a four-star prospect rated as the nation’s top junior college receiver last season, battled through a pair of injuries this season before finally coming alive with 4 catches for 34 yards in the loss to the Crimson Tide.

He previously had just one catch at South Carolina for 15 yards to his credit this season.

“It is a blessing that I can be out there to help my team to try and win some games,” Martin said. “I just had to take a different approach to learning the plays and getting healthy.

“…“I am very excited. It was a struggle. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another so I just had to put in overtime in the training room to be able to get on the field.”

The fact that it came against Alabama certainly helped Martin’s confidence.

“It was definitely a confidence booster because that was Alabama, the No. 1 team,” Martin said. “I just my coaches and my teammates that they could trust me out on the field to make plays for them.”

It was a welcome sight for Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith, who out-recruited Auburn - this week’s foe - as well as LSU and others for Martin.

“Doing a lot better,” Smith said. “I think you saw last week he had a lot of confidence in some of the things he did. He's been coming in and meeting with me. They're on fall break and he came in today to try and get ahead on the game plan. We met for about a half an hour.

“He's that type of wide receiver when he knows what he's doing, he can be great. That's my biggest challenge to him, to keep trying to learn it as much as possible. When he plays fast, I think people saw last week he has the talent to do it for us.”

Smith believes Martin is healthier and has a better grasp of the playbook.

“I think it's a combination of both,” Smith said. “He is healthy. He's running around a lot better. But at the end of the day, you've got to know what you're doing. That was the thing, when he got in, he knew what he was doing.

“I think he had one time in the game Saturday that he didn't execute the assignment he had the way he needed to. We're going to get that corrected. If he keeps progressing the way that he's doing right now we're going to be fine.”

Martin was committed to LSU out of high school and to Auburn before flipping to Arkansas last fall.

“I liked Auburn, but I just felt like Arkansas was the best fit for me,” Martin said.

Jonathan Martin, who was Martin’s teammate at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, leads the Razorbacks with 24 catches for 377 yards and five touchdowns.

“I am very proud of Jonathan,” Martin said. “He had injuries at our old school and I am very excited that he has shown what he can do on the field.”

Arkansas is just 2-4 overall and 0-3 in conference play with six games left in the regular season and a tough matchup looming with Auburn.

“We are very hungry,” Martin said. “We have six games left so everything matters now. It’s been tough, but it is on us. When we are having fun that is when we have our best games.”

Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley (6-7, 268) started in place of injured redshirt senior Austin Allen against Alabama.

“Cole is very competitive and he is ready to play anybody on any day,” Martin said.

While Martin wants to get as much done as he can with the games left this season, the fact that he has three years to play is something he feels good about.

“It helps me,” Martin said. “Basically I can take this year to get better, to develop and the next years I can just really come out and ball hard from the start.”

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