ADDISON, Ill. – When it comes to playing sports, West High sophomore Oliver Martin excels in two vastly different environments.
He has the distinction of being a star in both football and swimming, at least for now.
Martin, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound receiver, wants to play football in college, and that’s why he was among approximately 300 high school players who attended the Nike Football Regional Camp on Saturday in suburban Chicago.
“Doing the testing and going against the (defensive backs) kind of lets me know where I’m at this year and what I need to work on,” Martin said Sunday.
With two years of high school remaining, Martin still is early in the recruiting process. He hasn’t received a scholarship offer at this point, but schools, including Iowa, are aware of him.
“I’m getting a lot of college letters that want me to come to their camp,” said Martin, who caught 61 passes for 759 yards and five touchdowns last season. “But I haven’t gotten any offers yet.”
Martin, who has started at receiver since his freshman year, would cherish a scholarship offer from the Hawkeyes.
“I grew up in Coralville and have lived there pretty much my whole life,” Martin said. “It would be real nice to get it from Iowa. I like Iowa.”
Martin assumes he was one of few players at the camp who also swims competitively for his high school team.
“That’s a really weird combination to be a football player with,” Martin said. “A lot of them might have done it when they were younger, but not in high school.”
One of the drawbacks to playing college football is that Martin will have to give up competitive swimming. He was instrumental in helping West High win the past two state titles in swimming, excelling in multiple events.
“I’ve been doing it my whole life,” Martin said of swimming. “When I was younger I did it a lot and I was really good at it. So that is a big part of my life. It’ll be hard to give up.”
As for Sunday’s camp, Martin thought he held his own against elite competition. His only regret was his time of 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
“I think I stacked up pretty well,” Martin said. “I know I need to work on my speed a little bit.”
Martin thinks the transition from swimming affected his 40-time on Sunday. He has gained about 15 pounds since the end of the swimming season.
“I thought I’d go a little bit faster, but I just started running again after swimming,” he said. “So I think with a little more training that I’ll go faster.”
Martin was amazed by the size of some of the players who attended the one-day camp at Addison High School. One of the biggest players at the camp was 6-3, 350-pound defensive tackle Juan Harris, who is a sophomore at North Fayette High School and a former Iowa commuitment.
Martin and Harris were among several Iowa high school players who attended the camp.
“I know a lot of them were way bigger than the kids in Iowa,” Martin said. “It was weird seeing how big they were compared to the Iowa kids.”