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Better Know a Freshman: Sci Martin

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Edge rusher brings rich possibilities to LSU.

God’s will! my liege, would you and I alone,
Without more help could fight this royal battle.

Earl of Westmoreland, Henry V, 4.3.76-77

The St. Crispin’s Day speech is inarguably one of the most famous in all of Shakespeare’s canon. It’s not Romeo and Juliet’s pledges of love for one another. It’s not Hamlet’s meandering soliloquies pondering life and death and meaning and purpose. No, it’s the greatest hype speech ever spoken. Perhaps because it’s true.

Just before the Battle of Agincourt, young King Henry V rallied his men together. Beleaguered and vastly outnumbered (some reports say up to 5:1 French soldiers to English), Henry spent the night before dressed as a common man seeking to gauge the morale of his men. You may be familiar from the speech from this popular movie:

Or perhaps you’ve read the book or watched the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” which borrowed from the speech for their namesake.

Henry was a complicated man. On the one hand, he betrayed friends in the name of power. On the other, he possessed an innate ability to connect with his troops and persuade them to believe in the cause. A cause, mind you, he supported so fervently he took up arms alongside them. This act makes him a hero, yet, like most that come into power his bloodlust goes unchecked.

Shakespeare, like any writer of fiction, takes liberties with the historical events, using the Earl of Westmoreland (an actual person) as the embodiment of the soldiers fears. Prior to the speech the Earl expresses his doubts, wishing they had 10,000 more men to battle. By the end of it, the Earl thinks they could do battle with just he and Henry alone.

Every great football team needs a war daddy. He’s the guy the team turns to when the chips are down and the odds are stacked against them. He’s the guy that you’d happily do battle with, even at 5:1 odds. He’s the guy that keeps on getting up and keeps on coming. Relentless, aggressive and possibly ruthless. To a war daddy victory, and only victory, matters. All else is superfluous.

Sci Martin is 2016’s war daddy.

How Did We Get Here?

Interestingly. Sci Martin was always on the fringe. He’s a guy the coaches liked but didn’t love. He’s a guy that had one of those “offers.” Last Spring he visited LSU a handful of times. Then he snagged a Miami offer. Then, in early June, he committed to Tulane, strangely. Then LSU offered. Then he camped at LSU. Then he decommitted from Tulane.

This is when you point at Greenies and laugh. You always lose, Greenies.

Then Oklahoma offered. Then he visited TCU and Texas. And things went mostly quiet until October. He took an official visit to Oklahoma. A couple weeks later he visited LSU again. For the rest of the fall, he remained a fringe prospect for LSU. LSU wanted to feel out players higher on their board before fully opening the door to Martin.

In December, Martin pledged to TCU. It wasn’t a surprising decision, but most of the LSU contingent held strong that Martin would eventually wind up at LSU. Days later, Alabama offered. In mid January he took a visit to Tuscaloosa. The next weekend, he took a visit to LSU. Then, things went dark.

It was made known Martin wouldn’t be signing on signing day, the details of which are still a bit unknown. It was partially, if not fully, due to a health issue with his mother. A month later, Martin was ready. On March 14th, he committed to LSU and signed his letter of intent.

What Can He Do?

Height: 6’4”
Weight: 240 lbs.
40: 4.87
Short Shuttle: 4.44
Vertical: 29.5
Power Ball: 39.0”
SPARQ: 86.97

Strengths: Length, Speed, Hand Usage, Edge Skills, Bend

Weaknesses: Strength at the Point of Attack, Technique

Length: You can just see on tape his height and long arms. Such a weapon for a pass rusher.

Speed: At :26 you really see a flash of what he has. I don’t know if he’s got Barkevious Mingo speed. His testing time is poor. He doesn’t have a great first step like Arden Key. But man does he close a gap in a hurry.

Hand Usage: He’s active with his hands and I like that. I’m not sure he always knows what he’s doing with them, but they are always coming with him and that puts him ahead of the game. 6:26 is a pretty fine example of this. He’s otherwise blocked, but because he got his hands into the OLs shoulder pads, he’s eventually able to keep separation and break free of the block.

Edge Skills: This is somewhat of a cop out, but watch the reel. The guy just gets Edge play. He understands angles and paths to the QB. And it’s not just in the passing game. He reads his keys and makes plays as a run defender as well.

Bend: My absolute favorite pass rush skill. Being able to “bend the edge” is a rare trait that’s hard to really summarize. Watch the clip at 3:58. Martin comes right at the tackle, then adjusts his path back toward the endzone, forcing the QB to step up. For a lot of defensive ends, that’s the end of his job... he flushed the QB, good work. But Sci then makes a sharp change of direction and winds up getting the sack. The bend is the angle he creates by going directly upfield and then immediately cutting to 90 degrees. Impressive stuff.

Strength at the Point of Attack: This is probably partially because he played his senior year around 215 pounds, I believe. He’s now up to 240. Natural size and strength additions through a good conditioning program should bring him a long ways here.

Technique: All of it looks pretty raw. He knows how to win, so he often does, but it’s not usually because he’s flashing advanced technique. This will come in time.

What’s Next?

In 2007 there was a 6’3”, 210 pound DE that received little acclaim, despite displaying strong pass rushing prowess. He was ranked 29th in the state of Texas behind such luminaries as Jarrett Lee, Terrance Toliver, and Ryan Mallett. Even worse, he was ranked the 15th best weakside DE in the country. Von Miller was once an undersized, pass rushing specialist without a position.

I see a lot of Miller in Sci Martin. And yes, I hate that I’m comparing him to one of the current best players in the NFL. But Miller was similarly under ranked. Martin was ranked 34th at his position and 26th in the state of Louisiana. This is a kid that racked up 33.5 sacks last season. And this is playing NOLA football against the likes of Karr and Warren Easton. Martin didn’t dominate 1A ball in the middle of nowhere Louisiana. This kid took it to some of the best the state had to offer.

Thus, it’s no surprise to me that Martin is already drawing immense praise. He’s been practicing with the veterans, and some reports suggest he’s in line for early playing time. This isn’t entirely unexpected, as LSU needs bodies in the LB core. Aranda wants to attack and that’s precisely the type of scheme where Martin can flourish. I think Martin is the type of guy Chavis would have passed on or, never found a clear role. Martin isn’t a read/react DE. That’s not his game and asking him to do that would be a disservice to his talents. Put him on the edge and turn him loose. Let him wreak havoc.

Arden Key is in line to be the star pass rusher for LSU in 2016, but don’t be surprised if Martin provides some gas as a second wave option. I think he’s got future star potential.

High End: All-American
Low End: Situational pass rusher
Realistic: Multi-year starter and productive pass rusher