Eighth-grader calls his Michigan football offer 'cool' and 'crazy'
Last season, Mike Willey entrusted the middle of his defense at Cambridge (Mass.) Buckingham, Browne & Nichols High School defense to Tyler Martin.
The middle linebacker looked the part at 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds.
Nothing seems unusual until you find out that Martin is in the eighth grade, projected for the college recruiting class of 2022.
He already caught the attention of Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown and last week the Wolverines officially offered a scholarship to Martin, one of what should be many if he stays healthy and productive.
Martin said the offer caught him by surprise.
“It was a good meeting with Coach Brown," said Martin over the holiday weekend. “It was pretty quick. I was working out in the morning in the weight room. Coach Brown stopped by. I knew I would be able to meet with him a little bit, introduce myself. He gave me a rundown about some Michigan camps and places he would be at other schools this summer. That went well.
"He kind of sized me up a little bit; saw how I was looking. I went down and got dressed and told my coach he wanted to offer me a scholarship for U-M," Martin said. "My coach came and told me before school was out that he had offered. It was a crazy feeling, being this young and the magnitude of Michigan being the first school to actually offer me. It was cool and crazy at the same time."
He doesn’t sound like an eighth-grader on the phone, but he impresses whether it’s on the football field, at first base on the baseball team or at power forward on the basketball team.
“I started all nine of our games last year at the MIKE position," said Martin, who turned 15 in late March. “For me, the biggest thing was working in the offseason, not coming in and expecting to play like it was when I was younger playing for the Pop Warner teams in Massachusetts. The biggest thing for me was knowing what it took to play at such a high level at such a young age.
Willey said Martin isn’t his first middle-schooler to start on varsity. That honor goes to fullback Jay Symonds, who is headed to Stanford in the fall. But Willey said Symonds didn’t receive an offer as an eighth-grader.
By the time Martin is ready to commit to a college, he hoped to be around the same size.
“I want to stay at linebacker because I think my instincts and the way I play suits me more as a linebacker rather than a hand-in-the-dirt or a two-technique guy,’’ he said. “You never know how much I’m going to grow."
Willey has had a couple of eighth-graders play for his varsity team, but Martin may have the best skillset.
“Tyler is a smart kid and takes academics very serious," said Willey. “We’re one of the top educational high schools in the country. He’s a three-sport athlete. ... We want our kids to compete in other sports during the offseason. You can learn a lot about a kid when he’s 0-2 in the batter’s box or have to shoot the front end of a one-and-one in a tight game."
Brown told Willey that Martin is an exceptional athlete and wanted him to be part of the Michigan program.
“I agree with him," said Willey. “He’s a great player and an even better kid. He’s exceptional kid."
Martin said he hadn’t spoken or met “Mr. (Jim) Harbaugh yet.’’
“I have talked to my family about visiting and I’ll probably try to do it by the next summer or winter, but I just don’t have a timeline right now.’’
Contact Perry A. Farrell: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry. Download our Wolverines Xtra app for free on Apple and Android devices!