Football

Adrian Martinez says he evolved as freshman QB during difficult Nebraska season

Adrian Martinez makes it official and signs with Nebraska

Clovis West quarterback Adrian Martinez reflects on his recruiting and why he signed with Nebraska on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. - Anthony Galaviz
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Clovis West quarterback Adrian Martinez reflects on his recruiting and why he signed with Nebraska on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. - Anthony Galaviz

A year ago, Adrian Martinez was leaving Clovis West High and moving half a country away to play football at Nebraska.

It might’ve taken awhile for him to appreciate the gravity, especially since the Huskers’ original season-opener against Akron on Labor Day weekend was scrapped because of weather.

But when his time came ....

“It was really surreal when you run out that tunnel, there’s 90,000 fans, screaming and ready to go and Colorado was on the other end of the field and you realize it’s big-time college football,” Martinez said.

“It’s been pretty crazy, just going out there knowing it’s part of my dream to make this moment happen that I was finally there. Just probably that first touchdown play I had I knew I belong. I feel like I can play at that level and excel at that level and from there I was playing my game.”

On Monday, Martinez was one of 32 players named to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team. He was one of two quarterbacks named to the team joining Clemson true freshman Trevor Lawrence.

Nebraska’s first season under new coach Scott Frost didn’t got quite like Husker Nation would have hoped (4-8), but fans certainly could see a bright future with Martinez calling plays.

“I grew as the season progressed and will take those experiences from this year and it will better myself for next year,” he said.

Martinez ranked 12th nationally in total offense (295.1 yards per game), and led all freshman in that category, while ranking fourth among freshmen in passing yards per game.

Clovis West quarterback Adrian Martinez reflects on his recruiting and why he signed with Nebraska on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. - Anthony Galaviz

He averaged 237.9 passing yards per game and 57.2 rushing yards per game, becoming just the second FBS true freshman since 1990 to average 200 passing yards and 50 rushing yards per game and the first to hit those averages at a Power Five program.

There’s more. Martinez was just the sixth freshman quarterback – true or redshirt – to average 200 passing yards and 50 rushing yards per game since 1990, joining Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (2012), Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (2012) and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett (2014) as the only freshmen quarterbacks to reach those marks in the last decade.

Martinez set a school record for his total offense per game and ranked second in school history in completion percentage (64.6). He suffered a knee injury late in the Colorado game that kept him sidelined for two games. Still, he had a school-record seven 300-yard total offense games in 2018, including three 400-yard total offense games, tying the Nebraska season and career record in that category.

This after sitting out his senior high school season while recovering from a torn labrum. He enrolled at Nebraska in January 2018 and participated in spring football.

“Spring ball really helped me with that transition.” he said. “Football will never feel foreign for me. I’ve been playing it my whole life, despite taking a year off. Nothing felt new or weird me being back on the field.”

And what has Martinez learned from this past season that he will carry over for his sophomore season?

“I evolved as a player and as a person,” he said. “I’ve been around great coaches here that really just allowed me to better myself. I just become a much smarter player. I’m going to continue to do that. At the end of the day, I’m really focused on my team and what I can do to better myself and gives us a chance to win. I really have to stay focused at the task at hand and to the people on my left and right.”

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.

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