IOWA CITY, Iowa – The rest of the nation is starting to learn what people in Iowa City already knew about Oliver Martin’s ability to play receiver at a high level.
Martin gained more exposure by being named the most valuable player for his position at the The Opening Chicago Regional on May 14 in Addison, Ill.
That honor came on the heels of Martin winning the MVP award the previous week at the camp of former NFL receiver Don Beebe.
The senior-to-be from West High School will have another opportunity to improve his stock on a grand stage when he competes at Nike’s prestigious The Opening Finals, which will be held from July 5-10 in Beaverton, Ore.
Martin also will have a chance to impress the Iowa coaches when he attends their camp in June.
Martin has been in contact with the Iowa coaches, particularly assistant coaches Reese Morgan and LeVar Woods, but hasn’t been offered a scholarship.
"Where I stand with them right now is I’m sure they like me,” Martin said of the Iowa coaches. They want me to go to camp so they can see me. I hear good things from Coach Reese Morgan and Coach LeVar Woods."
Martin reportedly has five scholarship offers at this point, four of which are from teams in the Mid-American Conference, including the three directional schools in Michigan. Northern Iowa also has offered the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Martin a scholarship, while Iowa State is showing interest, much like Iowa.
An offer from Iowa certainly would be special. But it’s not what necessarily motivates Martin on a daily basis.
"I’m not sure if not having an offer motivates me,” said Martin, who is also a standout swimmer and baseball player for West. “I’m very self-motivating. So I don’t really need things like that to motivate me.
“Right now, I’m just getting ready for The Opening. But hopefully, when I go to camp this summer it will come with an offer, which would be really cool."
Martin should benefit from a scholarship standpoint by competing in The Opening Finals. The event features most of the top players in the 2017 senior class.
A starter at receiver since his freshman year at West, Martin caught 73 passes for 1,187 yards and 14 touchdowns last fall for the Trojans.
He has come a long way physically since his freshman year, now weighing close to 200 pounds.
Martin has added the weight without sacrificing any speed. In fact, he is faster now than ever before, thanks largely to his training with J.C. Moreau, who is founder and director of Sports Performance for Strength U in North Liberty.
“Before I didn’t really have a coach to help with form and running,” Martin said. “I would kind of go too hard. He’s helped me with my form and running a lot. Altogether he’s helped me tremendously."
Moreau said Martin had one specific thing in mind when he reached out to him.
“Speed training is initially why he reached out to me,” Moreau said. “To work on his forty time. It was combine prep type stuff.”
Moreau said Martin now consistently runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.5-second range. Martin also has the ability to make defenders miss in open field.
"Just the way he moves, he’s so smooth," Moreau said. "
Moreau has stressed to Martin the importance of pacing himself while playing multiple sports. Martin has such a strong work ethic that he sometimes needs to be reminded to ease up a little.
“The first thing I talked to him about was sometimes less is more,” said Moreau, who used to be a strength coach for the University of Iowa.
As for his senior year at West, Martin isn’t sure if he wants to keep playing three sports.
Football is without question his top priority. But it would be hard for Martin to give up swimming as a senior because the sport has been such a big part of his life.
“Last year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to swim, but it’s been such a big part of my life I wanted to do it,” Martin said. “I might not swim this year so I can get stronger for baseball and football but I’m going to kind of feel it out and go from there."
Tyler Devine contributed to this article