Every day until fall camp begins for Ohio State, we will profile a different Buckeye football player. Today that player is redshirt freshman defensive back Cameron Martinez. Yesterday it was linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. You can find all of the daily Scoop Profiles right here.
No. 10 | Cover Safety | 5-10 192 | Redshirt Freshman | Muskegon High School | Muskegon, Michigan
How’d He Get Here
Cameron Martinez came to Ohio State from Muskegon High School in Muskegon, Michigan. He rushed for 6,954 yards in his four-year career as a quarterback. As a junior at Muskegon he rushed for 2,526 yards, including a single-game school-record of 352 yards. As a senior he rushed for 2,124 yards and threw for 1,258 yards, accounting for 47 touchdowns in the process. Martinez led his team to three state championship games, winning one. He finished 26-2 as a starting quarterback at Muskegon. Martinez was also the first two-time winner of the MLive.com Michigan Player of the Year award. The Buckeyes offered Martinez in February of 2019 (nine days before Michigan offered him), and while they weren’t exactly sure which side of the ball he’d end up on, they figured he’d be able to manage. Martinez was ranked the No. 14 athlete in the 2020 class and the No. 323 player overall. Last year as a true freshman there was talk that he could end up as a slot receiver, but he ultimately ended up at defensive back. He played in two games on special teams last year, including the national title game against Alabama.
Cameron Martinez spent the spring working in the slot as the cover safety on defense. He was joined at that position by graduate senior Marcus Williamson and sophomore Lathan Ransom. Coaches said before and during spring that Martinez could end up moving around in the secondary, possibly also getting a look at deep safety and even cornerback. Generally, however, it looks like he was at cover safety mostly working behind Williamson and Ransom.
What to Like
To hear secondary coach Matt Barnes tell it, everybody loves Cameron Martinez because his effort and attention to detail are always on display. Aside from that, he’s a very talented athlete with a great feel for the football field. He has gotten stronger in his year at Ohio State and is a quick study despite spending his high school career on offense. There is still plenty of room to grow, but when coaches talk about him they say a lot (literally), which says a lot (figuratively).
What’s the Ceiling This Year?
The ceiling for Cameron Martinez this year is the starting job at cover safety. Even if he is running third now, every day spent learning and preparing will better equip him for the competition in the fall. He’s very quick laterally, so his athleticism lends itself to defending receivers in the slot. He just needs the constant repetitions in order to feel comfortable enough to begin thriving. Even if he doesn’t win the job, there are nickel (and dime) options and roles yet to be won. A role on special teams is also be in play this year.
Ohio State is going to be playing more and more defensive backs in the coming years, so even if Cameron Martinez doesn’t win a job this year, there will be options beyond 2021. He seems best suited for the slot, whether that is as a cover safety or a nickel back. But his ceiling beyond just this year is as an impact defensive back due to him having a great feel for the game. Being a quarterback, he’s already had to lead one side of the ball. Asking him to handle a slot defender’s responsibilities is unlikely to stress him. There is still some learning going on, but eventually the learning turns to polishing.