The thing about social media is how unsocial it seems, at least when defining social connection as speaking face-to-face — not texting, tweeting or otherwise typing your way into someone else’s life.
I say “hi.” You say “hello.” We see each other’s mouths move. But the definition is changing, or already has. We are not required to talk in the traditional sense to get our point across. We applaud, pout and panic by emoji. We harangue with hashtags. We LOL via IG and FB.
I don’t even need to be in the same room to know what you’re thinking, which for these purposes works well.
Tate Martell does not talk. Well, he does, just not to the media, at least not officially. This is by choice — not his, I’m guessing. Tate, who goes by Chuck — more on that later — is a true freshman quarterback at Ohio State. It is the rare first-year player who gets trotted out to meet with the media. Rarer, still, if the newbie is a quarterback. One never knows what a freshman will say, which is the point of having them not say anything.
That said — or not said? — we know something about Martell based on his social media habits, which include prolific use of Twitter. For instance, we know Martell worked his butt off (or in this case his abdomen) during winter conditioning, because he posted before (growler) and after (six-pack) photos of his stomach.
We also know, thanks again to Twitter, that Martell believes “the only thing that can stop me is … me.”
The kid does not lack confidence. Nor do his Twitter followers, one of whom predicted, “@TheTateMartell is the next big thing … he’s gonna take over the BIG10.”
As the Buckeyes prepare to open the season Aug. 31 at Indiana, intrigue percolates. Who will back up J.T. Barrett, redshirt sophomore Joe Burrow or second-year freshman Dwayne Haskins?
Martell is being talked about, too, only differently. Unless catastrophe strikes, the 2016 Gatorade high school player of the year, out of Las Vegas prep powerhouse Bishop Gorman, won’t start a game this season. If all goes well, he will take nary a snap. Don’t be surprised if he redshirts.
But Martell remains in the discussion because he possesses qualities that appeal to the coaching staff.
He is smart, cocksure and quick as a rabbit. He also is listed, generously, at 5 feet 11, which would seem to be a negative, but during camp scrimmages he has led the offense to touchdowns.
“Usually when you have somebody young who moves the team down the field and maybe doesn’t look pretty, but scores in the end zone, usually you’ve got one, so that’s what we’re looking for,” quarterbacks coach Ryan Day said of players who possess the “it” factor.
Ohio State coaches clearly think they have someone special in Tate.
Or is it Chuck? Football sports performance director Mickey Marotti renamed Martell soon after the quarterback enrolled in January. Still unclear is whether the name is in reference to Chuck Norris (Martell wears a headband like the martial arts actor), cocky test pilot Chuck Yeager, or upchuck, the collateral damage from winter conditioning.
There is a line of thought that Martell is too eager to self-promote, too conspicuous on social media. Bah. Give me a guy who believes in his abilities, as long as he can back them up. Plus, Barrett and older Buckeyes know how to keep kids in line.
“The other day, to start off the meeting we put a picture of (Martell’s) tweet, which was a picture of himself with tattoos (and wearing) his uniform,” Day said. “Guys gave him a hard time.”
Reportedly, Chuck had little to say. Or maybe he was saving it for social media?