From QB to DB: Ohio State’s Cameron Martinez scrambles and succeeds

Sports

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State defensive back Cameron Martinez is much more than a talented football player.

“Don’t be surprised if you look up 20 years from now and Cam Martinez is President of the United States,” Ohio State secondary coach Matt Barnes said deadpan. “He’s unbelievable. I wouldn’t put anything past him.”

“Cam is my roommate, so he has my vote,” OSU safety Lathan Ransom said.

While those comments are fun, they really do say a lot about what sets Martinez apart and how he has been able to make such a huge position change since arriving at Ohio State.

In 2019, as a quarterback at Muskegon High School, Martinez was named the Michigan Gatorade Football Player of the Year. In addition, his name is cemented in the Michigan high school record books with the second-most rushing yards by a quarterback in history.

Martinez has not taken a single snap at quarterback, or on offense for that matter, since arriving at Ohio State last year. Instead, he’s moved to the other side of the ball as a defensive back — a move that not many players could, nor would, want to make.

“You know, it was kind of just something during recruiting, I talked to the coaches about it and it was a decision I was comfortable making,” Martinez said.

The position change became even more challenging during Martinez’s first year with the Buckeyes when preseason practices got stripped away due to COVID-19. In response, Martinez took what made him a great quarterback and applied it: scramble and wait for an opening.

Now, that opening is here.

“I think Cam Martinez is ready to go,” Ransom said. “He put in hard work, he had a great fall camp. If you watched him play today, you wouldn’t be able to tell that he wasn’t a DB his whole life.”

Martinez said playing quarterback helped put him in a position to succeed on defense.

“Quarterback really helped me make things a little bit easier and just kind of understanding certain types of coverages and things that you just have to learn,” he explained. “I really like it. It’s different because I don’t have to have the ball in my hands. I get to run around and that’s something that I enjoy doing.”

The Buckeyes will take any and all enthusiasm, advantage, or fresh perspective in the secondary after finishing as the sixth-worst passing defense in the country last season. Their most notable struggle came against Alabama in the national championship when the defense gave up 52 points and 621 yards of offense.

That loss is something these current Buckeyes, especially the defensive backs, haven’t forgotten.

“We’re not gonna shy away from the fact that we didn’t play our best football, particularly in the back end, last year,” Barnes said. “You can either make excuses or you can own up and figure what you can do a better job of and use it as a motivator to get better.”

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