Versatile Martin a key weapon for Spartans

When Keshawn Martin gets to practice early in the week, he usually has no idea how Michigan State plans to use him on Saturday.

He could simply line up at his receiver position and run routes. Or he could carry the ball on reverses and sweeps. Occasionally, he'll be asked to throw the ball as well. The senior welcomes any and all surprises.

"I feel like I can do anything," he told ESPN.com this week.

Martin's versatility and unpredictability give the Spartans a valuable weapon on offense. It's no coincidence that as Michigan State's offense has taken off of late, he's been right in the middle of things.

Last week against Indiana, he caught eight passes for 99 yards and a score and ran for a 19-yard touchdown. The previous week against Iowa, he turned a pass that was nearly intercepted into a 67-yard catch and run and contributed a 20-yard punt return to set up a touchdown. He also scored two touchdowns each in the big wins over Michigan and Wisconsin.

Martin has been one of the Spartans' X factors during his career and especially this season. With the rushing attack ranked last in the Big Ten, Michigan State has had to manufacture offense in other ways, and they have one of the league's top manufacturers of yards.

"He may have 60 to 90 plays of highlight in his four years here," head coach Mark Dantonio said. "We'll miss him tremendously next year. That will be a major void for us."

For such a valuable player, Martin had some humble roots. Though he starred at quarterback for John Glenn High School outside of Detroit, he had no scholarship offers into his senior season before some coaches at his school sent out a highlight tape. Michigan State quickly offered him after watching the tape, and Illinois and Michigan got in late, too.

"It was probably just because people didn't know about me," Martin said of his unusual obscurity. "I didn't go to any all-star camps or anything like that."

One of the fastest players in the Big Ten, Martin was quiet early this season in part because he was nursing some bumps and bruises from fall camp. After the bye week following the Ohio State win, he said he started to get his legs back and feel healthy. His production has soared, too.

The Spartans have a dangerous one-two punch at receiver with him and star B.J. Cunningham, a more traditional wideout.

"It's a tough assignment for defenses because of all the different things we can do," Martin said. "Teams have to watch for B.J. going up to get balls. They also have to look for reverses, bubble [screens], deep routes. I feel like it's tough for defenses to really key in on one guy."

Dantonio compared the 5-foot-11, 189-pound Martin to NFL veteran Derrick Mason, whom Dantonio coached as an assistant in East Lansing. He said he thinks Martin can play in the pros.

"I'm hoping my versatility will make NFL teams want me," Martin said.

That versatility sure helps Michigan State, while causing other teams headaches.