Sure, Urban Meyer is gone as Ohio State coach, but Ryan Day proved on the Fourth of July that the Buckeyes are still throwing their weight around in the state of Michigan with the fireworks exploding in the way of Cameron Martinez’s commitment.
Martinez showed during his junior year at Muskegon that he is arguably the state’s most exciting player, earning a spot on The News Dream Team by rushing for 2,527 yards and 38 touchdowns, including a modern-day school-record 352 yards (23 carries) and six touchdowns in a 55-35 win over rival Muskegon Mona Shores.
Martinez — rated as a four-star athlete by 247Sports — plays quarterback at Muskegon, but he said Day told him last month he could play either safety or receiver at Ohio State.
“I announced it on the Fourth of July, but a few days before I called the coaches and told them, and I also told the coaches from the other schools that I was going to go there,” said Martinez, who talked to coaches at Nebraska, Minnesota, Kentucky, Michigan and Michigan State to tell them of his decision to play for the Buckeyes.
“The thing that I liked the most is the culture there,” Martinez said. “When I was on my official visit (June 21-23), I was able to be around a lot of the players and watched them work out. They were able to show me how they do things, and that’s something I’m accustomed to over at Muskegon, and that just kind of grabbed my attention. I just felt right at home.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Josh Gattis, who at the time was recently named the Wolverines’ offensive coordinator, took a trip to the west side of the state to watch Martinez play basketball back in January to show their interest in him.
Then, Martinez received offers from MSU, Penn State, Minnesota and Purdue in one stretch in mid-January.
Martinez didn’t get an offer from Meyer, but things changed after he stepped down as head coach.
“No, he (Meyer) never was in contact with me,” Martinez said. “They never offered me when Urban was the head coach. Once Coach Day got the job after the season, that’s just kind of when they offered me. Me and him have built a really good relationship so far. He’s just a young coach, and he’s going to have a lot of success. I’m excited to play for him.”
So, what makes recruits gravitate to Day?
“I think he’s involved a lot with the players,” Martinez said. “On my official visit, we were able to sit down with him, my family and I, and we had a chance to talk to him. He said he had a lot of things he planned on doing to make sure to keep the culture together, like a big family.
“He said I’d be playing either safety or receiver, that H-back position. They said they’d let me choose. I really didn’t expect to make my decision this quick, but I just kind of went with what my gut was telling me to do. That’s the best feeling that I had with that school, so I decided to wrap this whole thing up.”
Port Huron Northern defensive end Braiden McGregor — No. 2 on The News Top 25 players for the upcoming season — has committed to Michigan, as has Belleville cornerback Andre Seldon (No. 11) and West Bloomfield linebacker Cornell Wheeler (No. 15), but Oak Park offensive lineman Justin Rogers (No. 1, Kentucky), Oak Park cornerback Enzo Jennings (No. 3, Penn State), Detroit King receiver Rayshawn Williams (No. 9, Indiana), Detroit King running back Peny Boone (No. 12, Maryland) and Warren De La Salle offensive lineman Grant Toutant (No. 13, Penn State) have gone elsewhere.
Now, all eyes are on West Bloomfield safety Makari Paige (No. 5), who has narrowed his choices to Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State and Kentucky.
Paige did not return multiple calls from The News.