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4 Star Recruit LJ Martin: Beneath the Pads

By: Braden Adams

Yesterday morning BYU received a commitment from a highly touted running back out of Texas, LJ Martin.

Martin’s recruitment has been a wild one to follow.  After originally committing to Texas Tech back in April, he then went on to gain an offer from Stanford which he quickly decided to pounce on, playing out his senior year as a Stanford commit.  But after Coach David Shaw stepped down from his post after the BYU game, the 6’1 running back was left without answers.

“Yeah it definitely took me by surprise.” He said, “After Coach Shaw left I didn’t know what to do really.  I knew I still liked Stanford, but I didn’t know who was going to be the next coach, and I didn’t know if it was going to be a place where I was still going to fit into their scheme.”

Enter BYU.

Matt Mitchell and Harvey Unga quickly evaluated the Canutillo High School (TX) product and knew he was someone that they wanted.

“Coach Mitchell and Coach Harvey came out and visited me and my family, and I just could tell they really cared about me as a person.  I could tell they have a real family element in their program.  A lot of teams say they have it, but I could tell BYU really does.”

BYU was able to get him out on a visit to Provo, and that’s where Kalani and Co were able to seal the deal.

“Getting out to Utah was awesome.  I definitely had an awesome time on my visit, and just getting to know the other recruits and being able to get to know the coaches on a deeper level just really sealed the deal for me.  It just made me want to get back out here and actually be a part of the team.”

Shortly after the visit, they received a commitment from the talented running back, and he signed his letter of intent during the early signing process.  Though, nobody knew that he had already flipped his commitment and signed with a team.  He wanted to keep the process quiet to be able to officially declare his commitment at a ceremony at his school.

“Yeah, I actually signed back in December.  But I wanted to be able to have a ceremony and all that at my school.  And Coach Roderick was cool with letting me hold onto that until today so I could do all that.”

Martin will immediately step into Provo as one of the most talented backs on the roster.  According to MaxPreps, LJ ran for over 6100 yards during his high school career averaging a hair under 10 yards a carry and 60 touchdowns.  That is insane production no matter how you spin it.  Though BYU has talented backs in Miles Davis and Hinckley Ropati, Martin will have a chance to end up as the number 2 back behind assumed starter Aidan Robbins, commanding carries early on in his young BYU career.

“For me the biggest thing I want this year is to just be able to step in and make a difference.  I don’t know what this year holds, but I just want to work hard and try and get onto the field as much as I can and help the team in any way possible.” He said

“I know there is a lot I can still work on, and I’m looking forward to being able to get on campus and work on becoming an even better back.”

The Cougars are getting help at the right time.  After losing seniors Christopher Brooks and Lopini Katoa to graduation, the Cougs have reloaded their backfield and given themselves perhaps the most talented running back corps they have had in years.

A couple other notes about LJ:

-Martin is a huge Star Wars fan.  “Sometimes I will just turn on YouTube and just look at different Star Wars conspiracy theories.  And sometimes I can just spend hours watching these videos.  I love it”

-He is a self described nerd, and his favorite subject in school is science.

-According to himself, his biggest strengths are being able to make people miss and doing whatever the coaching staff needs.  Whether it be running the ball, blocking, or catching out of the backfield.  

-The biggest thing he wants to improve on this upcoming year is being able to just make one cut and go.  He told me he hopes this year he can work on seeing the hole a little better and when it opens taking it and going

-While living in Provo for the next couple years, he hopes to get into snowboarding, and is so excited to experience the Utah culture.  He mentioned he loves the fans and said he loves how crazy they can be and thinks BYU fans are some of the best in the country


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