The first topic of Kirk Ferentz's Week 1 press conference was Oliver Martin. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central
Kirk Ferentz can tell you the minute he received the phone call telling him that highly regarded wide receiver Oliver Martin would be eligible to play for the Iowa football team this fall.
"It was 11:42, 11:43 this morning. I only know that because we were going to watch practice tape at 11:45," Iowa's head football coach told listeners of his radio show Wednesday evening. "Needless to say, we were really pleased to get it and it was fun to tell Oliver and share that news with him as well.
"We're all happy about that. We're just happy to have him join our football team. If it had gone the other way, we would have lived with that and looked forward to having him join us next fall."
Martin, a graduate of Iowa City West, transferred to Iowa from Michigan in June and appealed to the NCAA for a waiver that would grant him immediate eligibility. After weeks of anxious waiting, the NCAA and Big Ten Conference both signed off on it Wednesday, about 80 hours before the Hawkeyes open their season with a 6:40 p.m. home game against Miami of Ohio.
Martin, a four-star recruit out of West, has been practicing all along as if he would play in Saturday's game, Ferentz had said Tuesday.
He will immediately become Iowa's most versatile wide receiver, learning how to play all three positions in the offense.
"Not every receiver can move around," Ferentz said. "But Oliver has already demonstrated that he can play pretty much any position, physically, but also handle the mental end of it, too — it gets a little confusing at times. He's done a really good job in a short amount of time really learning what we're doing and that makes it easier for us."
Martin has three years of eligibility remaining.
Ferentz said he had no involvement in Martin's appeal. The university's compliance office handled that, with the aid of attorneys the Martin family hired.
"We were cautiously optimistic, but you just never know how things are going to go," Ferentz said.
"I have no contact at all with the NCAA or the Big Ten office on that. I really don't know what the case was, the particulars of it. It's none of my business."
Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.
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