Iowa wide receiver Oliver Martin is waiting to hear whether he'll be granted immediate eligibility after transferring from Michigan. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central
Oliver Martin got the word he and Iowa football fans have been clamoring for since he officially became a Hawkeye in early June.
Yes, it happened. The talented wide receiver has been ruled eligible to play this season, and just in the nick of time.
The final word came Wednesday morning from the Big Ten Conference, five days after initial approval came from the NCAA, according to a source with direct knowledge of the process.
Martin will have three years of eligibility for the Hawkeyes, starting with Saturday’s 6:40 p.m. opener against Miami of Ohio.
What a way to hit game week.
The verdict had been months in the making.
Martin and his inner circle have known since Friday that his appeal for immediate eligibility was granted by the NCAA. That significant victory didn’t come easily; the Martin family had hired an attorney to work with Iowa’s compliance office to put together a detailed case on why he should be allowed to play right away.
During the process, the NCAA gave Michigan (his previous school) a chance to review and comment on Martin's case.
And still, it got approved.
But there was one final step that required completion before Martin could be deemed eligible. Because Martin transferred within the Big Ten (he spent two seasons at Michigan), he also needed conference approval. Iowa filed that paperwork this week and got the response it wanted.
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The reasons within Martin’s appeal have remained private.
“I appreciate your interest on the topic,” Martin said during the team’s media day Aug. 9, as he was waiting for the waiver process to finish. “But I just don’t really want to go into the details.”
The reasons don’t really matter now.
What matters is that Martin is happy to be (as he says) home at Iowa, and he can certainly provide a boost to the Hawkeyes' offense.
The former Iowa City West star has been quickly trying to learn the Hawkeyes’ playbook at all three wide receiver positions. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz sees Martin’s versatile skill set at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds as an advantage.
Iowa’s top four at receiver has now become a top five, with Martin joining "X" receiver Brandon Smith, "Z" receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette and slot receivers Nico Ragaini and Tyrone Tracy Jr.
“(Martin) is a good short-area quickness guy,” Ferentz said. “But he does a real nice job on some vertical routes and tracking the ball down the field.”
Martin was a four-star recruit coming out of high school, choosing Michigan from among a who's-who of suitors, including the Hawkeyes. He redshirted his first season in Ann Arbor before catching 11 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in 2018.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday that if Martin was cleared this week, he would play Saturday against Miami. Now, he has the green light.
About an hour after the Register's report, the university confirmed the Martin news and released a pair of statements.
From Kirk Ferentz: "We are pleased that the NCAA and Big Ten Conference have approved Oliver’s waiver to play this season. Oliver is a tremendous young man who has been working hard since the day he set foot on our campus this summer. His teammates are excited to have him on the practice field and in the weight room, and we look forward to Oliver being able to contribute to our team.”
From Martin: “I am ecstatic that the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference have approved our waiver request. I want to thank my coaches and my teammates for their help as I work to get ready. I have been dreaming of running out of the tunnel wearing the black and gold ever since I decided to join the program. I can’t wait to contribute to this team on the field."