Updated: Offensive lineman commits to Illini
CHAMPAIGN — Zeke Martin will make history when he plays at Illinois.
The offensive tackle from Medina (Ohio) High School, who orally committed to the Illini on Wednesday, will become the first player named Zeke to suit up for the Illini.
It’s not a nickname, either.
Is he any good? Ask our beat writer here
“That’s my original name,” Martin said with a laugh. “A lot of people ask if it’s not, but it is.”
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Martin is the third offensive lineman to commit to Illinois and seventh overall in the Class of 2015. He’s also the first Ohio prep product, a state that Tim Beckman and his staff have mined hard during their time at Illinois. Gabe Megginson from Jacksonville and Adam Solomon from Indianapolis Bishop Chatard are the other linemen who have committed to the Illini.
Martin started at right tackle last season for Medina, a school with an enrollment of 2,240 that sits 30 miles south of Cleveland. The Battling Bees finished 3-6 last season, missing out on the playoffs in Division I, Ohio’s largest classification.
Martin held offers from Mid-American Conference schools Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Ohio, Toledo and Western Michigan, with Illinois offering him a month ago.
Inside linebackers coach Mike Ward and offensive line coach A.J. Ricker headed up Martin’s recruitment for Illinois.
“Both of them are great people,” Martin said. “Coach Ward would always talk to me or message me on Twitter and try to help me become a better player. Coach Ricker came to my school to watch me work out last month, and he loved what he saw.”
The feeling was mutual when Martin visited Illinois earlier this week.
“As soon I came here, it just felt like home,” Martin said. “Everything felt right, and that’s what I was looking for in a school.”
Martin said he didn’t have a timetable or particular date in mind on when he wanted to commit.
“Once I found a home where I wanted to go, that’s when I would,” Martin said. “The conference didn’t really matter to me, but playing in the Big Ten is awesome, and it’s an honor. I just needed to find a home.”
He’s glad the recruiting process is over.
“It’s pretty relieving, I’ll tell you that much,” Martin said.
Medina operates a wing-T offense, with its quarterback under center and out of the pistol. The versatility Martin could bring with him to Champaign is a high selling point for the Illinois coaches, who plan to utilize him either at right tackle, the two guard spots or center.
“I really haven’t worked much at guard, but I could learn it,” Martin said. “It doesn’t really matter to me where I play. The part of my game that helps me the most is I can flip the switch when I get on the field, and my run blocking is what I excel at right now. I need to work on my pass blocking, but I just play mean.”
Zeke Martin became the latest commit for Tim Beckman’s 2015 recruiting class Wednesday. The offensive lineman from Medina, Ohio, is the seventh player to join the class. How do other Big Ten classes look so far? Here’s the answer:
School Number of commits
Penn State 16
QB Brandon Wimbush, OL Sterling Jenkins highlight Big Ten’s best class
Badgers added Downers Grove North athlete David Edwards, who attended Illini spring game, on Wednesday
Dowell twins (RB Andrew and DB David) from Lakewood, Ohio, lead Wildcats’ pack
QB Michael Dare one of New Jersey’s top signal-callers in this class
Four-star RB Kendall Bussey from New Orleans could turn into next Ameer Abdullah
Benet QB Jack Beneventi picked Hawkeyes over Illini
DB Kareem Ali Jr. best of bunch so far for Randy Edsal
Ohio State 8
Urban Meyer has added five recruits since calendar flipped to June
Crown jewel right now is Jacksonville OL Gabe Megginson
Indianapolis LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. could become instant contributor
Hoosiers picked up Montini WR Leon Thornton last week
Michigan State 5
QB Brian Lewerke from Phoenix leads group right now
OL Matt McCann teammate of Illini commit Adam Solomon at Indy Bishop Chatard
Jerry Kill grabbed both Huff twins (DB Jacob and LB Julian) from Bolingbrook