As you may recall, Martin, an Iowa City native, was a major Iowa football target (and object of considerable lust among the Hawkeye fanbase) in 2017. He ended up committing to Michigan instead, and played for Jim Harbaugh & Co. over the last two seasons. However, rumors about his departure emerged a few weeks ago and heated up further when he entered the NCAA transfer portal last week. He made a visit to Iowa City last week and apparently that was all he needed to see to make the decision to play the remainder of his college career (much) closer to home. Via Hawkeye Nation:
HawkeyeNation.com has learned from a source close to the situation that the talented receiver is back on the Iowa campus Monday, getting to know better the players and coaches. He will officially join the team later this week. The announcement likely won’t come from Martin through an elaborate social media post but more likely from a university release.
Martin chose the Wolverines ahead of Iowa and offers from some of the top programs in the country. Schools like Notre Dame, Ohio State and others reached out last week when he entered the transfer portal. The Hawkeyes jumped in with him right away when they learned he was leaving Michigan, and he visited last Thursday.
What prompted Martin's decision to depart Ann Arbor (and choose Iowa) isn't precisely known and likely won't be known until he chooses to speak to reporters about his decision. Regardless of the factor(s) behind his decision, though, Martin's arrival in Iowa City could be a tremendous coup for the Iowa passing game. He was a 4* recruit leaving high school and posted dominant numbers at Iowa City West: 239 receptions, 3,449 yards, and 33 touchdowns over his 4-year career for the Trojans.
That said, those numbers didn't translate into instant stardom for Martin in the college ranks. He didn't play at all as a true freshman in 2017 and while he played in all 13 games last year, his numbers were not spectacular: 11 receptions, 125 yards, and a touchdown. Still, Martin has considerable potential -- and a depth chart at Iowa that will be less-stacked with fellow blue-chip prospects to beat out than the depth chart at Michigan.
Martin would be Iowa's third transfer addition of the offseason, after Division II defensive lineman Zach VanValkenburg and punter Michael Sleep-Dalton. While both VanValkenburg and Sleep-Dalton are graduate transfers and eligible to play immediately, though, Martin is a traditional transfer and will have to sit out a season -- unless he can obtain a hardship waiver from the NCAA to waive that sit-out year. (I'm unclear what hardship Martin might be able to claim, if any, but the NCAA works in increasingly bizarre ways when it comes to things like additional years of eligibility and hardship waivers, so who knows.) Martin will have two years remaining after sitting out the 2019 season, so he could suit up for Iowa in 2020 and 2021.
Iowa's passing game has been seeking playmakers at receiver for, well, pretty much the entire last decade since the departures of Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, two of the best receivers of the KF Era. There's a great deal of positivity about Iowa's incumbent receivers like Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, as well as redshirt freshmen like Tyrone Tracy, Jr. and Nico Ragaini, but Iowa can always use additional weapons at the receiver position and Martin would unquestionably fit the bill there. He has the versatility to play inside as a slot receiver as well as outside, which could ease his ability to work into Iowa's receiver rotation.
There were hard feelings among some Iowa fans when he chose Michigan over Iowa in 2017, but holding a grudge about a decision he made almost two and a half years ago seems foolish. At the time he made his decision Iowa still had Greg Davis as its offensive coordinator and Bobby Kennedy as its wide receiver coach; it's not hard to see why suiting up for that passing game may not have been enticing. To say nothing of the lure of a blue blood program like Michigan or the opportunity to escape the fishbowl (and sky-high expectations) that would have resulted if a local prep legend like Martin had decided to suit up for the college team just down the road from his high school. If Martin has decided to take a do-over on his initial decision during recruiting, then that's a decision worth celebrating.
This move won't be official until Iowa issues a press release about it... but it seems pretty official right now. So: welcome (back) to Iowa City, Oliver. We're excited to see what you can do in black and gold.