The Pittsburgh Steelers have had plenty of success over the years with finding defensive talent from small schools. From Donnie Shell and Jack Lambert to Greg Lloyd and Javon Hargrave, they unearthed gems that most teams overlooked. The Steelers believe they found promising talent at outside linebacker last year with Keion Adams from Western Michigan. This year’s small school talent pool includes someone from the Steelers own backyard. West Mifflin High School graduate Marcus Martin, a defensive end from Slippery Rock University, should be on the Steelers radar. Why? Because he capped off an amazing college career with a historic senior season. Martin’s senior year proved he belongs with his big school counterparts.
Pittsburgh Steelers Need to Take a Serious Look at Marcus Martin
The 2018 NFL Draft is just around the corner. One of the Steelers main needs is an inside linebacker who can cover ground and tackle. Martin is someone who can do just that, with a whole lot of heart and a non-stop motor. Despite his small school status, Martin is one of the most productive defensive linemen in NCAA history. Prior to his legendary Division II career, Martin was a standout defensive player at West Mifflin High School. In addition to football, Martin made a name for himself participating in track events such as running the 200m, javelin and shot put.
Marcus Martin Makes History at Slippery Rock
Martin isn’t the most imposing player in college football, but he’s made a name for himself with his production. He’s the all-time sack leader in college football with 56, and owns the all-time Division II record with 92.5 tackles for loss. Martin was a dominant force for Slippery Rock from the moment he stepped on the field in 2014. He started every one of his 48 games. The West Mifflin native racked up 302 tackles (139 solo), 56 sacks, six forced fumbles, and six passes defended. Slippery Rock’s coaching staff appreciated Martin’s unrelenting effort and hustle.
“There’s no question he could be starting at Pitt or anywhere else in the country,” Slippery Rock coach Shawn Lutz said. “The myth is that a defensive end in a 4-3 (defense) has to be 6’4″ or 6’5″. A lot of these teams are saying if you can pass rush, we can’t coach that. I don’t care what defense we play.” Considered short for a defensive lineman at 6’1″, Martin did not receive a Division I scholarship. Slippery Rock offered him a home and he rewarded them with 16 sacks, earning the PSAC West Freshman of the Year award. “I don’t know that there are many of him at any level,” said Cal (Pa.) coach Gary Dunn, “He’s the total package. He plays nonstop.”
Marcus Martin Succeeds Through Hard Work
To say Martin accomplished a lot at the Rock would be an understatement. His awards are a testament to his athletic ability, superior work ethic, and a genuine love for the game. “One thing I’ve definitely gotten better at is football IQ: understanding offenses and being able to predict things before they happen and being able to read backfields,” Martin said. Despite major schools holding his stature against him, Martin proved them wrong. “That’s just something I keep in the back of my head,” Martin said. “I am a shorter guy, so I gotta work on my other (skills). I can’t change my physical attributes, I’m as tall as I’m going to get. The things you can get better at is your quickness, your strength and everything mentally. So that’s the things I focus on.”
Marcus Martin Awards and Accomplishments
- PSAC West Freshman of the Year after recording 16 sacks
- Three-Time Super Region One Player of the Year
- Two-Time Consensus All-American
- Third-Team All-American honors as a freshman
- Gene Upshaw Award winner for Division II Defensive Lineman of the year, earning an invite to the East-West Shrine game
- NCAA All-Time career sacks leader with 56
- NCAA Division II All-Time leader with 92.5 tackles for loss
Martin became the first Division II finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award in 2017, given annually to the best defensive lineman in the nation. His accomplishments prove that he is just as draftworthy as anyone who was invited to the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.
Why the Pittsburgh Steelers Need to Look at Marcus Martin
Martin is the epitome of a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker. He plays angry, has an unparalleled work ethic, and has a non-stop motor. Martin is constantly focused on getting better. He pairs above average intelligence with impressive athletic ability to get to the ball and make plays. Martin provides the Steelers with everything they look for at the position, but most importantly he is a sure tackler. Whether the Steelers spend a third day draft pick on Martin, or sign him as an undrafted free agent, they need to acquire him. Since he is from the Pittsburgh area, any visit with Martin won’t count against their allotted number of pre-draft visits allowed.
Last Word on Marcus Martin
Martin has earned the right to compete for an NFL job and is worthy of the opportunity. While many draft guru’s have Martin playing fullback in the NFL, he’s a linebacker. He’s versatile and could easily make the move inside, but could have success outside as well. Martin isn’t the fastest linebacker, as far as 40 times go, but his game speed is solid and consistently gets him to the ball. He’ll need to work on his technique to compete in the NFL, but he comes with a solid foundation to work with. What is one thing that Martin does better than most of the linebackers on the current Steelers roster? He wraps the ball carrier up and makes tackles. Martin should have been invited to the Combine after his stellar career, but he wasn’t, and his snubbing could be the Steelers gain.