Missing his entire senior season was pretty hard on Adrian Martinez. The former Clovis West High School quarterback had shoulder surgery in March of 2017 and his coach, George Petrissans, remembers a moment in the semifinals of the state playoffs last season.
It’s fourth-and-1 and the Golden Eagles are going for it. They need a first and they need points. Martinez is on the sideline signaling the play to his backup. The team’s running backs coach is subbing out the starting back for the reserve and before Petrissans can say anything, Martinez grabs the reserve running onto the field and yells for the starter — “the one we needed to have the ball with,” Petrissans said — to stay in the game.
The Golden Eagles converted, and later scored. They lost by two to end the season, a game most coaches wouldn’t want to remember, but when asked about Martinez’s intangibles it’s one of the first things Petrissans brings up.
“We’re going to miss it for sure because most players don’t do that and Nebraska’s going to get a great guy that’s going to understand situations and he’s smart,” he told Hail Varsity Radio on Wednesday. “Have fun with it.”
Petrissans has been at Husker practices and sat in on Husker meetings. The new coaching staff has treated the Fresno, California, native well (along with just about any other high school coach that walks through their doors, it seems). He’s gotten a behind-the-curtain look at what makes this Husker offense tick.
It’s not that far off from what he and Martinez ran at Clovis West.
“There’s a lot of similarities in the tempo and the speed that we’re trying to play at,” he said. “I think that Adrian was used to the tempo and speed of that play and I think he’s used to the zone-read action and being able to read defenders and being able to make that decision quickly. That fits into his skillset with his athletic ability.”
So it didn’t surprise Petrissans to see Martinez succeed in the Huskers’ Red-White game.
“Adrian’s extremely poised and he’s very mature … but I wasn’t surprised with his early success because the offense that coach Frost has built around him and what he’s done fits into the skillset that Adrian has,” he said. “There’s a lot of similarities, it’s what he does really well.”
Petrissans said Martinez has the mind to process this offensive scheme and make correct decisions and the arm to make all the throws his new coach is going to ask of him, but he agreed with a Frost assessment from before the spring game: the “steam on the ball” isn’t quite back yet.
“The velocity isn’t where I think Adrian really wants it to be yet,” he said.
Martinez didn’t attempt a true deep ball in the spring game. He lofted one over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown to wideout Jaevon McQuitty, but Martinez had a wide open receiver and the ball wasn’t anywhere close to being a laser. UCF was top-five in the country in 20-yard, 30-yard and 40-yard throws last season; the deep shot is a part of the system and Martinez’s health might play as large a role in his winning of the starting spot as anything.
Even if he doesn’t win the job, though, Petrissans says Martinez will be the guy from that playoff semifinal rather than someone who checks out on the team. He said Martinez is a guy that others will “naturally follow.”
“Adrian is a competitor. He wants to win, he wants to be that guy,” Petrissans said. “At the same time, I think he knows, ‘I’m still learning.’
“If he’s not the guy initially, he’s going to be working his tail off to be that guy eventually.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.