Below the radar since his days as a recruit, Greer Martini seems poised to seize an opportunity in a linebacking corps filled with unknowns. Highly productive in his limited opportunities—mostly as an option specialist—Martini’s capable of much more, including contributing at all three positions in Brian VanGorder’s system.
He’ll need to be healthy, first. One of many that spent spring on the mend (Martini had offseason shoulder surgery), he’ll challenge senior James Onwualu for snaps at the Sam linebacker job and could also win the starting role as Jaylon Smith’s replacement.
6'2.5", 245 lbs.
Junior, No. 48, LB
An out of the blue commitment before his junior season, Martini was an unranked prospect at the time of his commitment, though he had offers from Maryland, NC State and Virginia Tech. He ended up a three-star recruit, but was unranked nationally by any of the major recruiting services.
Freshman Season (2014): Played in all 13 games, starting against Navy and USC. One of five true freshmen to notch at least 12 tackles. Had 26 tackles, two TFLs and a sack against Louisville. A season-high nine tackles against Navy.
Sophomore Season (2015): Played in all 13 games, starting against Georgia Tech, Navy, Boston College and Stanford. Made 35 tackles, including 2.5 TFLs and one sack. Was at his best against option opponents Georgia Tech and Navy.
WHAT WE SAID LAST YEARPretty spot on.
Expect to see Martini do more of the little things for the Irish in 2015. He very quickly established himself as a trusted freshman. He was the first rookie to see the field in his class. He also managed to appear in all 13 games, with two starts another indicator that he caught on to the defense quickly—while also showing special teams value.
That value will make him a fixture on Scott Booker’s run units. And Martini will also see plenty of playing time against the option. With run-powered attacks coming against Navy, Georgia Tech (and likely Boston College), Martini will be an in-the-trenches type, capable of taking Onwualu off the field, and also sliding inside if needed. Martini’s nine tackles as a true freshman against Navy triggerman extraordinaire Keenan Reynolds is probably one of the more overlooked performances of the season.
I like underdogs and have always liked Martini. So while most looked at this freshman class of linebackers and wonder how long it’ll take them to jump the line, I see Martini as a key contributor and potential starter in the future.
Martini is still likely a part-time player in his third season of competition. But there’s the makings of a highly productive linebacker here, and I expect to see that sooner than later. One of the poster boys of the RKG prototype, Martini is a better athlete than he’s given credit for, has shown a nose for the football, and will have plenty of opportunities to win a job with Jaylon Smith and Joe Schmidt out the door.
His versatility should allow him to play all three linebacker spots this season if needed. That type of thing—along with a nice dose of experience—could serve as a tiebreaker when the defensive staff is choosing a starter at the Will linebacker position.
I’m not sure how he’ll do it, but I expect Martini to take the second-most snaps of any linebacker behind Nyles Morgan. The logic is fuzzy—senior James Onwualu will likely be the starting Sam linebacker—and the Irish staff believes in talented sophomore Te’von Coney. But there are just so many things that Martini is good at, and keeping him on the field makes too much sense.
Productivity wise, I’m expecting a jump as well. We’ve seen Martini thrive against option opponents. Add in run-heavy opponents like Nevada, Michigan State and Army to the slate and too many arrows point to opportunities for Martini. I expect him to seize them.
2016’s Irish A-to-Z
Torii Hunter Jr.
Tony Jones Jr.