Without a doubt the most anticipated and talked about addition to the 2019 Miami Hurricanes, quarterback Tate Martell has been controlling the UM media since he announced he’d been transferring to the U from Ohio State all the way back in January.
right back like we never left...— TATE MARTELL (@TheTateMartell) January 16, 2019
I’M A HURRICANE! pic.twitter.com/6Dh0gu4fxD
The circus surrounding Martell grew larger and larger as we all awaited the NCAA’s decision on whether he’d be eligible to play this season or not.
Finally, on March 19th, the first day of spring practice, it was announced that Martell had been cleared to play in the 2019 season, setting off a celebration around Canes nation.
we aren’t ready yet.. but we will be!— TATE MARTELL (@TheTateMartell) March 19, 2019
oh btw... I’M ELIGIBLE TO PLAY! pic.twitter.com/jSr9wmwiqi
The former Buckeye and product of powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Martell has been in the public eye for a while now. From going 43-0 in high school, spending two interesting seasons in Columbus, and now being at Miami, Tathan is one of the biggest storylines in college football.
But let’s get to the actual playing field. Competing against N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams for the starting job, it’s no secret that Martell struggled for most of the spring. Few people can really understand the pressure Martell must’ve felt when that waiver was cleared. Tate had a hard time with consistency, learning the offense, accuracy, you name it. In the scrimmage the week prior to the spring game, Martell went 3-for-9 passing and threw an interception.
Spring Takes.— Rod pitchblack (@R_DESINORD) March 25, 2019
Best Quarterback in spring so far has been Jarren Williams.....by far!
N’Kosi Perry has struggled with...consistency
Tate Martell has been struggling mostly due to being new to the team. Also he is really short. 5”11 would be a stretch.
Though, during the final week of practice, Martell started to show improvement and showed out when Miami traveled to Orlando for the spring game. Tate finished the day going 6-for-10, for 154 yards and two touchdowns, looking like a completely different quarterback. What I like most about Martell is that he was able to put the beginning of camp behind him and move forward. He’s not the kind of quarterback who I would worry about throwing an interception early and not being able to bounce back.
So now, looking ahead to the regular season and August 24th against the Gators, Martell now has put himself in a position where he could be the starter come week-one. The race between Tate, N’Kosi and Jarren is tight, and will remain that way through fall camp.
Dan Enos said he's had feelings several times in the past month about who was winning/leading the UM QB battle and it keeps changing. He was pleased with what he saw today and overall improvement. Tate Martell was his best in past week.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) April 20, 2019
As they’re in the dog-days of summer workouts, Martell knows that this next month and a half before camp starts is crucial. Learning the Dan Enos offense, continuing to establish relationships with his new team and establish himself as a leader. Something that was lacking in 2018 for the Hurricanes was leadership at the quarterback position, and being vocal with teammates. It was also reported that Tate was the most intense of all the QB’s, getting on certain players following a fumble and having a coach-like approach.
One advantage that Martell seems to have over Perry and Williams, at least on the field is his athletic ability to move around in the pocket. When he was given the opportunity, Martell showcased his ability to not just sling the football downfield, but also make plays with his legs, which could make him a much more attractive starter for Enos’ offense.
Tate Martell with a perfect throw while rolling out. His ability to work outside of the pocket is definitely his strength. pic.twitter.com/Rs2J3KXQzF— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) April 18, 2019
In 2018, Martell completed 82.1 percent of his passes, while adding 128-yards on the ground with two touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards every time he took off. This works in Tate’s favor, because his playmaking ability when the pocket breaks down and his skills in improvising will come in handy with an inexperienced Canes offensive line. Something that was said about Perry during the spring was that he took far too many sacks.
While he doesn't have the arm strength of Perry, the accuracy of Williams, or the height of either, Martell was great in the spring game at throwing quick slants to his receivers, something that Alabama did a lot in 2018 with Enos as the QB coach. In the video below, Martell delivers a nice strike to receiver K.J. Osborn who then took it the rest of the way for a touchdown. Enos isn’t asking Tate to transform into an air-raid passer, just to make precisions throws to Jeff Thomas, Osborn and Martell’s high school teammate Brevin Jordan, and get those guys in space.
He also just seems to have that “gamer” mentality that Williams might not possess, and Perry is streaky with it. We saw it with him at Ohio State, when he was put in he didn’t disappoint. Now the key for Martell is nailing down on the practice side of his development. In addition, Martell also possesses a certain swagger and confidence about him, that you know the Hurricanes and their fans just love. Now, if he can turn that swag into plays on Saturdays, we’ll have a real winner.
So it turns out that Tate Martell is a gamer. Who would've thought— Gaboowins (@GabyUrrutia22) April 20, 2019
Now remember, Martell still hasn’t started a game at the collegiate level, yeah he has that impressive high school resume, but he has yet to prove that he can be QB1. N’Kosi Perry, while he struggled at times in 2018, started six games last year, he brought the Canes back from 20 points down to beat their rival Florida State. And Jarren Williams is projected to have the most NFL upside out of the three. There’s a reason why this is one of the most highly contested QB battles in recent UM history.
We still have a good amount of time before fall camp starts up, but before we know it, it’ll be here and Miami will be on their way to take on Florida. While I'm not predicting that Martell is going to be the starter, I could very well see it. Back in February, I wrote how Tate could be the quarterback to break the Miami quarterback curse, and I stand by that. I really believe that Martell is going to fit well in Enos’ offense.
Whoever starts at QB for the Canes in 2019 is going to win that battle in Greentree over the summer. He’s been a winner all his career, let’s see if Martell can bring Miami back to where the program should be.