Making the grade as Nebraska's QB

LINCOLN, Neb. -- You don't know Taylor Martinez.

You think you know the fourth-year Nebraska starting quarterback, with a first step faster than a flash bulb and throwing mechanics, while much improved, that still fall short of conventional.

You think you know Martinez, who turns 23 on Sunday, one day after No. 16 UCLA visits Memorial Stadium to face the 23rd-ranked Huskers. Saturday will mark his 42nd collegiate start, one of 37 school records (by Nebraska's count) that he's established since 2010.

Martinez needs 28 rushing yards to join four quarterbacks in FBS history who gained 3,000 on the ground and threw for 6,500. He needs 112 yards of total offense to become the ninth Big Ten player to accumulate 10,000. He's the active leader nationally in career rushing yardage and, historically, is among the likes of Vince Young and Colin Kaepernick with his statistical exploits.

He's led Nebraska to at least nine wins in each of his first three years. But the Huskers have lost four games every season with Martinez in charge. He is an enigma -- a cross between what Nebraska needs and the quarterback whom its fans cannot fully understand.

You know him as the California kid who's never appeared comfortable in the fishbowl that is Nebraska football. You've seen him talk awkwardly before the media, robotic with his short answers. Martinez can answer 20 questions in less than five minutes. Quiz him for a half-hour or half that time, and it's the same; the answers don't change.

"People mistake him for being rude," Nebraska offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles said. "But he just keeps a low profile. I think it helps him. He's not out there looking for attention."

To read more of Mitch Sherman's story, click here.