How Michigan plucked Oliver Martin from Iowa City
Pep Hamilton, Michigan's new passing game coordinator, is set to make $1 million in salary this year. He's already earned at least a small portion of those seven figures on the recruiting trail — specifically in the Iowa Hawkeyes' backyard.
Because Hamilton may very well be the reason All-Iowa standout Oliver Martin landed in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Hamilton officially joined Michigan’s staff as its new passing game coordinator on Jan. 12. That's right around the time the Wolverines pursued Martin full-throttle after seemingly stalling for a bit in December.
"They had always been there," Martin said Wednesday. "Toward the end, they kind of pushed a little harder when they had a little bit of coaching change."
Translation: When they hired Hamilton.
On Jan. 17, five days after he got the new job, Hamilton was on a private jet from Cleveland to Iowa City to court the Iowa City West senior. It's believed that Martin was Hamilton’s first recruiting visit, and it's well-known that Hamilton immediately made Martin a top priority. That was quite clear to Martin on Jan. 17.
"We had a great talk," Martin said of Hamilton’s visit. "And my dad talked to him, too. He just seemed really interested in me and I felt like I fit into his plan for the offense really well. Talked about how he’d help me reach my full potential and all that."
And that's when the pendulum swung.
The following week Jim Harbaugh came to visit Martin, and that went well, too. At this point, Ohio State and Florida had also joined the Oliver Martin sweepstakes and were pushing hard for his final official visit on Jan. 28. UCLA was also a big-time player with new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who not-so-coincidentally was replaced at Michigan by Hamilton.
But ultimately Martin chose Michigan for that final visit.
"Once I learned more about how much he liked it there after his first visit and that he was thinking about going a second time, I knew that he was really actually considering that place," Martin’s sister, Ruby, said. "He really thinks that he can succeed there; I think he can, too. And he has a really good relationship with Jim Harbaugh."
Martin said he actually committed to Michigan during his visit to Ann Arbor. He just waited a couple days to go public.
"I liked a lot of the schools that I was at. I really liked Michigan when I was there," he said. "I think what kind of pushed me over the edge was hearing from my parents that they thought it was a great place, and I felt like I agreed with them and that’s kind of what happened."
Iowa was in contention all the way until the end, Martin said.
"They were one of my top schools for the whole process," he said. "They’ve been a great school for a long time, they recruited me for a while. I liked the program, I liked the coaches there. I was comfortable with the players. So I mean they were there, it’s just that I liked a lot of other schools, too.
"It’s hard to say no to a lot of schools, especially Iowa, though, because I feel like I had a great relationship with the coaches."
Martin also said Michigan coaches support him also playing baseball and swimming.
"They’re all for it because they see it as more competitive reps that I could get," he said.
Up next for Martin? Catching up on schoolwork he missed during recruiting visits. That means less times talking to coaches — finally — and more focusing on his advanced placement statistics class and college writing class at Kirkwood.
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_.