Marcus Martin likes to tackle people. This is particularly true of the quarterback.
The senior defensive end puts the sack in PSAC. Martin entered the season as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference's all-time leader in both sacks and tackles for a loss. Slippery Rock's matchup against Lock Haven on Sept. 16 saw Martin sack the Bald Eagles quarterback twice. They were sacks No. 46 and 47 of his career, breaking McKendree's Lucky Baar's NCAA DII football record of 46.5 sacks.
Martin is now the division's all-time leader.
“It was surreal," Martin said. "At the exact moment that it happened, it was third and long and I was dog-tired. I knew I needed to make a play. I had a feeling in my head I was going to get there. I remember walking to the sidelines. They announced it, it was a humbling feeling. It’s the biggest accomplishment I’ve ever had in my life.”
As DII football student-athletes become more competitive and talented, program records are seemingly broken on a weekly basis. Martin's numbers and achievments are somewhat unfathomable. His 47 sacks are 14 more than any active player in the NCAA. The same day he became the greatest sack master in the history of Division II, Martin also became the DII football leader in tackles for a loss, sitting at 79.5 and counting. That's something that takes a little while to settle in and comprehend.
“Not yet," Martin said. "Sometimes, my buddies on my team say, ‘statistically, you’re the best to ever do it on this level.’ You know, I’m just one of those guys that went through a humbling experience, and it makes me want to go harder. Today was our day off, but I just got done training at noon. I’m in the record books now, but I want to set that bar even higher so I’m there for a long, long time.”
Martin is a dynamic force, and his impact on the defensive side of the ball made Slippery Rock somewhat of a sleeper heading into this season. The Rock has the daunting task of playing in the PSAC West Division, which features California (Pa) and Indiana (Pa), the No. 5 and No. 6 teams in DII football.
“Slippery Rock is always a hard-nosed, tough team," Martin said. "Losing seasons are just not acceptable in our program. We’re a young team. Other teams may be saying it’s a rebuilding year, maybe lose a few games. But we already strive big. Week by week, as long as we keep getting better it’s going to add numbers to the first column and not the second.”
What has helped The Rock get out to its fast 3-0 start has been the explosive offense. The emergence of Milly Raye has made Slippery Rock both high-scoring and fun to watch. Raye has made his spin-move the stuff of legends, becoming a social media superstar.
“Me and [Raye] are both from Pittsburgh, so I got the privilege to watch him work this offseason," Martin said. "He became a better athlete. He was always good, always a shifty guy, but seeing him at the end of the summer I was like, ‘wow, he looks better than ever.’ He came in with me, he’s a senior, when he makes those plays that he does out there, it gives me an extra boost to go out there and give it my all.
“That’s how it goes. If [the offense] has a fumble, they come straight to us and say we need the ball back. They are high energy guys and they just want to make plays for us, and its the same way around. That’s a successful team. There’s no pointing fingers. Someone makes a mistake, it’s not ‘what are you guys doing?’, it’s ‘we got you.’”
The Rock's next test is Gannon University. However, the Sept. 30 bout with the Vulcans is certainly gaining steam as one of the matchups of the year. That's still two weeks away, though. For now, let's go under the helmet and get to know DII football's all-time sack leader a bit better.
Favorite sports movie: Man, I’ve seen so many. It has to be Remember the Titans, it’s a classic.
Favorite football team: Steelers. I live right outside Pittsburgh.
Favorite player: James Harrison. I watched him playing in Super Bowls making plays. As I got older, I’m a huge Von Miller fan. I like the way he plays -- high-tempo, high-effort, franchise player. He does it all. It’s kind of a mixture, Harrison is kind of my build, but Miller, I'm more of a high-energy guy like him.
Can you be on Dancing with the Stars like Von Miller? Depends on who my coach is. But, no, probably not. I’m not as good a dancer as he is.
What’s in your headphones: I just got asked this question earlier, actually. I’ll listen to anything that’s good, from classic rock to a new rap songs to hard rock. There’s this kid called Mike Stud and Closer is my favorite song. He was a baseball player in college, but had Tommy John surgery. He was an All-American but he’s a rapper now.
Superstitions: I’ve been wearing the same game cleats since my freshman year. They are new cleats, but the same style 2014 Nikes.
Pregame meal: I always have to have a banana before the game.
Is Game of Thrones your favorite TV Show? I’m in the one percent. Probably Fast and Loud is my favorite honestly.
Favorite cartoon: Probably Scooby Doo.
Are there NFL dreams in the future? I wouldn’t be playing college football if there weren’t. Things are looking promising. As long as I stay healthy, and keep producing like I have, hopefully I’ll be playing on Sundays.