Sports reporter Matthew Bain discusses what led up to Oliver Martin committing to Michigan.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa City West receiver Oliver Martin has committed to Michigan. The four-star recruit announced his decision via Twitter on Monday night.
"I am proud and excited to announce my commitment to play football for the University of Michigan! Go Blue!" Martin wrote.
The Wolverines had been considered the front-runners for Martin since passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton did an in-home visit Jan. 17. Head coach Jim Harbaugh also visited Martin and his family on Tuesday and he took an official visit last weekend.
Ohio State, Iowa and Notre Dame were also pushing hard for Martin last week. The latter two met with Martin and the Buckeyes were hoping to secure his final official visit after he had to cancel his visit to them last weekend.
"Just happy for him," West head coach Garrett Hartwig said. "He’s certainly one of the best players to come through Iowa City West and the state of Iowa. I know it was a tough decision for him — he had a lot of great opportunities. And in the end, he chose the best fit for him both athletically and academically. I’m thrilled and excited for him and I can’t wait to watch his career.
"Oliver’s a type of receiver that fits in almost any scheme and any time you get a receiver that can run routes well, catch the ball, is physically strong and disciplined and can block, that receiver can play anywhere."
Added Brian Sauser, Martin's former West football coach: "This is just a great story of what happens when talent, unparalleled work ethic and patience all come together."
Ethan Holmes, sport performance consultant at Ethan Holmes Performance who helped with Martin's speed development, also chimed in: "The opportunity to work with athletes like him does not come too often and I'm very thankful to have been a part of all of it. Athletes like him make my job easy and I can't wait to see the impact that he has at the next level."
And from JC Moreau, founder and director of Strength U who worked a lot with Martin last offseason: "I believe the story of Oliver's recruitment has been told. It was a slow, late evolution compared to most top-100 prospects. To look back at where he was in March, and all that he pushed through, the resolve he displayed, the single-mindedness he brought to work, practice, camps, day-in and day-out — it's phenomenal."
Other potential landing sites included Michigan State, UCLA, Florida, Auburn and BYU. Martin took an official visit to Michigan State on Jan. 13, to Notre Dame on Dec. 10 and to Iowa on Dec. 3.
But with Martin's stellar performance at practices leading up to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game — and Michigan's presumed fourth receiver, Nico Collins, briefly trending toward Georgia — the Wolverines jumped back into the fray, and Florida, Ohio State and UCLA jumped in for the first time.
"I want to give a big thank you to all of the football programs that have recruited me," Martin wrote. "I have met some amazing people during this process and appreciate all of them greatly. Secondly, I owe my parents, grandparents, coaches, friends, and family a tremendous amount of gratitude for everything they do for me and for helping guide me through this process."
Martin now joins a stacked Wolverine incoming freshmen receiver class with five-star Donovan Peoples-Jones, four-star Tarik Black and three-star Brad Hawkins. Four-star Nico Collins might also commit to Michigan soon.
"I think he stands shoulder to shoulder with every one of those players," Hartwig said. "He proved that he is one of the best receivers in the country. And I’ll also say he’s one of the best teammates that those guys could possibly have as well. Because he is a team player and a talented man at that, and he’s going to be a huge asset."
All in all, Iowa's top-rated football prospect had offers from 18 schools: those mentioned above plus Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan.
In its most recent rankings update, 247Sports lists Martin as the No. 42 prospect nationally in the 2017 class. He is widely considered to be the best prospect in a loaded year for prospects in Iowa.
Martin leaves Iowa City West as the state's all-time receptions leader (239) and Class 4A's all-time leader in receiving yards (3,449) and receiving touchdowns (33). Martin led Iowa prep football this year with 1,272 receiving yards on 85 catches. He caught 14 touchdowns and scored on a punt return and a kick return.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.