Martin attracts local attention

Scholarship offers have been blooming for 2011 offensive line prospect Marcus Martin (Los Angeles / Crenshaw) in the past month.

After a standout performance at the Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp on April 25, Martin has received offers from Washington, UCLA and USC in the past few weeks.

"Arizona offered me [Wednesday]," Martin said. "I'm excited. I'm happy. This is a great opportunity to play anywhere I want to play."

The high school junior is expecting an offer from Arizona State to come in soon, and he is hoping to hear from Oregon and Florida this summer. Martin is not in a rush to make his final decision, and he declined to give a list of favorites. In the meantime, he is taking it all in stride.

"I'm just listening and taking notes," he said of his conversations with college coaches. "I'm taking it all in one at a time. It's a decision I'll make with my family. I want a school that likes to have fun on and off the field, in academics and competition."

The 6-foot-3, 351-pound guard had been high on Washington in the early going, but recent offers from his two hometown schools have made it a wide open race for his services. Most observers believe Martin's final decision will come down to a choice between the Bruins and Trojans.

Another highly recruited Crenshaw junior, running back DeAnthony Thomas, recently made a verbal commitment to USC. That will certainly play a role in Martin's decision.

"He's a good friend of mine," Martin said. "Kind of like my best friend."

But Martin insists the decision will come down to "just me and my family."

Complicating things further is Martin's answer to the question of who he idolizes on the football field: recent NFL draft choice Brian Price. The former UCLA defensive tackle was recently taken in the second round by the Tampa Bay Bucs. He is a family friend and a Crenshaw alumnus. If Martin is looking for the path from high school to college to the NFL, he doesn't need to look any further.

Living in Los Angeles has given Martin the chance to make campus visits to both schools this spring.

"I had fun. It was nice hanging out with the staffs and some players," he said. "I got to watch practices. They were similar to ours."

Martin's father, Gary, said he is impressed with the way his son has dealt with the spotlight.

"For a 16-year-old, he's handling it pretty well," Gary said. "This is what he's worked hard for to get to. He's come a long way in three years."

Marcus and his father insist the final decision will not be based solely on the chance to play for a school that is close to home.

"When it comes time to make a decision, we're going to make the best decision for Marcus," his father said. "Not just because it's local."

For the time being, Martin is trying to focus on improving his game. Crenshaw players have been working on conditioning during the offseason, and Martin is looking forward to his senior season. Last year, his team made it to the state championship game but fell short to national power De La Salle High School (Concord, Calif.).

"We're trying to go back to state," Martin said. "This time we want to win."

Martin's quick rise to prominence in the past month has been challenging. He has been dealing with a lot of phone calls and autograph requests, but his family has been helpful and supportive.

"My brother and my dad have been telling me to stay humble, play football and do well in the classroom," he said.

It has been a joint effort to keep the future recruit focused on what's ahead.

"Myself and my oldest son, we try to instill things into him," Martin's father said. "Marcus is a hard, dedicated worker. He's a natural leader who works hard at what he does, whether it's in school or on the football field."

Martin's brother has been especially helpful, both on the field and off. He coaches Marcus and his fellow offensive linemen at Crenshaw.

"He's my brother, my coach and my mentor," Martin said. "He always keeps my mind right."

Martin's father said he's happy with the accomplishments of both sons.

"I'm very proud of them," his father said. "My oldest son is an ex-Crenshaw player. He does a good job with all the kids, not just Marcus."

Martin tries not to listen to people who break down his game, and he will not make comparisons between himself and other players.

"I've been compared to a lot of people," he said. "I just try to create my own path, make my own way. I play intense, fast and hard. And hit a lot of people in the mouth."

In his free time, Martin is like most teenagers in that he likes to spend time on computers. With a twist, that is.

"I build computers," he said. "I've been doing it since my freshman year of high school. My dad was doing it and I just caught on to it."

Marcus and his father enjoy working on desktop computers because the parts are easy to come by.

"I've always had a strong interest in computers," his father said. "I always liked working with my hands. It became a hobby, and I shared it with Marcus."

While it is not necessarily something Martin would like to pursue as a career, he is interested in the possibility of honing his craft at college.

"Yeah maybe," he said. "Just to have it as a skill."

Whether he is putting together motherboards or dominating a board drill in practice, the kid nicknamed "Pancake" is not afraid to show his vast array of skills on and off the football field.

As the summer gets started and the temperatures start to rise, it would appear Marcus Martin's stock will continue to rise as well.

Frank Tormey is a writer for ESPN affiliate and USC site WeAreSC.com.