Iowa Football

Oliver Martin focuses on football amid NCAA uncertainty

Michigan transfer still awaiting news on whether he can play in 2019

A group of Iowa football players is photographed during the 2019 University of Iowa Football Media Day in Iowa City on Friday, August 9, 2019. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
A group of Iowa football players is photographed during the 2019 University of Iowa Football Media Day in Iowa City on Friday, August 9, 2019. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — As uncertainty looms around Michigan transfer Oliver Martin and whether he’s eligible to play for Iowa in 2019, the Iowa City native is trying to keep his focus on one thing: football.

“There’s nothing I can do on my part except prepare for the season,” Martin said. “That’s what my time and energy is focused on.”

Martin has been the center of attention for many Big Ten fans after he transferred from Michigan to his hometown school earlier this summer, resulting in plenty of action on social media.

“Initially when I made my decision, there was a decent amount of media attention, and that was a little bit of drama,” Martin said.

Since then, Martin said he feels like he has fit in well with the rest of the Hawkeyes, making friends on the team and “really diving deep in the playbook” during the summer.

“Ever since that point, I feel I’ve assimilated pretty well,” Martin said. “I’ve made a lot of friends on the team, and I’m pretty comfortable. And I feel like I fit in really well.”

That includes working with the quarterbacks to quickly catch up in case he can play immediately.

“That’s good for learning the playbook, learning how to run routes,” Martin said. “Getting a little bit of timing down with the quarterbacks before you come into camp.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz has been impressed in practice with what he’s seen from Martin, who graduated from Iowa City West as a top prospect.

“He looks good. It’s great to have him on the field,” Ferentz said. “We’ve known about Oliver for quite some time. He’s a tremendous young person, and has been really, I think, warmly received by his teammates. He’s earned their respect, he’s doing a good job,”

But a different game — the waiting game for word on his eligibility — is out of Martin’s hands, Ferentz and Martin said Friday. Ferentz said he believes the Iowa compliance department submitted the form to apply for immediate eligibility “within the last two weeks,” leaving it up to the NCAA to make a decision.

“It’s been forwarded to the NCAA, and what happens thereafter, (there’s) probably no way to predict, like most things that go that direction (to the NCAA),” Ferentz said. “We’ll just kind of wait patiently and see where it goes. But Oliver doesn’t have any information, I have no information, so right now we’ll just kind of wait and see how it all goes.”

Ferentz said he didn’t have an idea of how long this process typically takes.

With the first game three weeks away, Martin said he’s definitely anxious to get back on the field, where the main concern is football.

Even the ability to participate in fall camp has provided a reprieve from a lot of the offseason distractions.

“It’s been real nice to get back to football and competing — that everyday grind of camp,” Martin said. “The end goal is winning games and going to the Big Ten championship. ... It’s good to get that process started.”

While Martin said he is thankful for his two years at Michigan, he is happy to be home.

“It feels great. This is my hometown,” Martin said. “I’m very glad to be developing here on the field and academically. I feel like it’s a good fit.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“If he can get eligibility, I certainly think he’ll help our football team this year,” Ferentz said. “If he doesn’t, then we’ll bank this year, use it as a learning year and look forward to having him be with us next season.”

l Comments: john.steppe@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.