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Down from the Great White North

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

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    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/09yLebngbNgB2/340x.jpg"><img class=" " title="Vaughn MArtin" src="http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/09yLebngbNgB2/340x.jpg" alt="Vaughn Martin" width="186" height="246" /></a></div>


    <span style="font-style: normal;">27 Universities are part of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), Canada"´s equivalent of the NCAA. It is an independent body that governs the rules and regulations that Canadian College Football is played by. The rules are not the same as those used by the NCAA, in fact they are more akin to those used by the professional Canadian Football League (CFL), logically so. They have three downs to go 10 yards, a 20-second play clock, 12 players on each side of the ball and the field is 110 yards long with 20-yard end zones. CIS football is the highest level of amateur play in Canadian football.

    It is a little known fact that the origins of North American football lie here. The first documented game was played at University College at the University of Toronto in 1861. A number of CIS programs have been in existence since the origins of the sport. It is from these Canadian universities that the game we now know as Canadian football, and its offshoot, American football, sprang.

    In total, there are only 25 CIS players who have made it to the NFL including two in 2009, why? Well a smaller number of players, different rules or perhaps the NFL teams do not spend money to scout the Canadian College teams.

    Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian put it this way, during an interview: "<em> With an 80-man [training camp] roster, the chance to develop players is severely limited, you have to be able to play pre-season games right off the bat, so it makes it difficult for developmental players even to get a chance to go to camp. Hence, our scrutiny of the CFL; there are many more developmental players who do well in the CFL than we can afford to bring to camp here.</em>"

    In the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers selected defensive lineman Vaughn Martin age 22, from Western Ontario. Martin became the first CIS underclassmen to be selected in the NFL draft. Born in Jamaica, Martin was raised in Toronto and London, Ontario. He attended London South Collegiate Institute, playing football for head coach Chris Marcus, and later Mike Stenning. He competed as a linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle and fullback in high school, recording 90 tackles with five stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2004.

    Prior to beginning his collegiate career, Martin competed for two summers with the Forest City Thunderbirds in the Central Ontario Football League. He also was a member of Team Canada, playing in the 2006 NFL Global Junior Championship in Detroit. He was named to the NFL Global Junior Championship X All-Tournament Team after helping Team Canada to a perfect 5-0 record, including five shutouts.

    The Chargers obviously have high hopes for Martin who signed a four year contract with the Chargers in July of 2009. Chargers hope to have Martin anchor the right side of the defensive line some day. Martin is by all accounts both athletic and intelligent, he scored an impressive 38 on the NFL's Wonderlic Test; there is no doubt that this exceptional young man he has the bulk, strength, and agility to become a nose tackle and possibly the future replacement for standout Jamal Williams.

    After a recent Chargers Training Camp I had the opportunity to speak with Martin, who was a very polite, well spoken man. I asked him what it was like coming from Canadian Football, and their rules down to the NFL and the differing rule set. Martin replied "<em>It is an eye opener, it is exciting.</em>" During the practice the Defensive Line Coach Don Johnson was stressing footwork with Martin. At one point he called out "<em>You can't do that with your feet, you don't have time the ball will be gone.</em>"</span>

    <span style="font-style: normal;">Martin also mentioned how he feels privileged and blessed by the opportunity. "<em>No disrespect to Canadian football, this (NFL) is real football. It is a man's game, I get to play at the highest level possible, what more could you ask for?</em>"

    I asked him how he felt going into the second game of the preseason, enquiring as to the challenges in the differing rules and just adjusting to the NFL way of life. Coming from a University in Canada, I was not sure if Martin had ever played before a crowd the size of the one he played before at Qualcomm when the Chargers faced the Seattle Seahawks. He replied "<em>I am feeling a little bit more comfortable, I don't feel too comfortable because I still have to go out there and prove (myself).</em>" So from this I gathered that he is adjusting the ways of the NFL but is very focused on becoming a top player, exactly what I wanted to hear as a fan of the Chargers.

    "<em>We are out here every day and it is still training camp, though we are getting into the game mode. I already experienced a coming out, receiving kickoffs substituting running off the field just the game environment.</em>" Martin continued talking about the Seahawks game, where he got to experience the whole game, NFL style. Of course, this being preseason, he may have a little more to experience the weekend after Labor Day. "<em>It was a home game last week and (there will be) fans that hate us, and that is fine but that is the only thing that is going to change. So it makes it all conducive to getting better.</em>"

    Of course being a unabashed fan myself, I let him know that the fans were behind him and asked if he had anything he wanted to say to the fans, his reply was quick, and said with a little sincere smile "<em>I love you.</em>".</span>

    <span style="font-style: normal;">Now for me one of the key things that AJ Smith, GM of the Chargers and the Spanos family have brought to San Diego is a team built of ‘Character' players. As I documented in the article" <strong>Hearts of Champions</strong> (<a style="color: #22229c;" href="http://bolttalk.com/?p=5157" target="_blank">http://bolttalk.com/?p=5157</a>), the Chargers have several players have given time to charities, or visit the Military. The Chargers hold practices at local Military bases to help entertain the troops. It seems to me that Vaughn Martin is going to fit in very well on this team of high character players.

    Martin still has some developing to do, foot and hand work to perfect, but with his physical attributes and intelligence I have no doubt that he will get those in line very soon. I wish him the best, and wish him good health!</span>

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