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Rookie's goal: Make Chargers say, 'We've got to keep this guy'

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    By Don Norcross
    Union-Tribune Staff Writer
    6:50 p.m. August 12, 2009

    SAN DIEGO – Philip Rivers breaks into that good-ol' boy, Southern drawl when asked about Charly Martin.

    “He's one of those guys who as camp goes on, he just grows on you,” said the Chargers quarterback. “I expect him to make some plays in the preseason.”

    Which, unless you're a roster-memorizing, summer-camp Bolts fanatic, begs one question: Who's Charly Martin?

    He's a 25-year-old rookie free agent wide receiver out of Division II West Texas A&M. A guy who admits the odds against him are long. A guy who happily signed for a $5,000 bonus because all he wants is a chance to prove he can play at the next level.

    Said Martin, “I'm going to put a team in a situation where they're like, 'We've got to keep this guy.'”

    Martin has proven the skeptics wrong before.

    Like when he came out of Framington (N.M.) High and said he'd play college football. Friends didn't laugh in his face, but eyes rolled.

    The rap then?

    “Kind of the whole, 'You're white. You're slow,'” Martin said.

    He took his $500 books scholarship – the only offer he received – headed to West Texas A&M and proceeded to set school records for catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions.

    His numbers as a senior last year were pinball-esque: 95 catches, 1,867 yards and 22 TDs.

    No one, of course, confuses the Lone Star Conference (Texas A&M-Commerce?) with the SEC. Take West Texas' playoff game last year against Abilene Christian when Martin's side put 68 points on the board.

    And lost by 25, 93-68.

    “All I ever say,” said Martin, “is I played offense.”

    His stats that day: 14 catches, a Division II playoff-record 323 yards, five touchdowns.

    “We're glad he's gone,” said Abilene Christian head coach Chris Thomsen.

    Dig into Martin's past and you'll be regaled with stories about the 6-foot-1, 210-pound receiver's hunger for the game.

    “Hardest worker I ever had,” said Framington High offensive coordinator Frank Whalen, now in his 19th season of coaching. “Last guy to leave the weight room and last guy to leave the field.”

    West Texas receivers coach Mike Nesbitt tells the tale of Martin dressing for a road game, but being strictly told to keep to the sidelines for warmups and the game. Martin, who redshirted one season and was granted a medical redshirt in another, was recovering from a torn labrum.

    “I'm not paying attention,” recalls Nesbitt. “I turn around and Charly's out there in pregame, taking reps with the first team, running and catching the ball. The head coach says to me, 'If you don't get the helmet away from that guy, you're not going to have a job anymore.”

    Said Martin, who punctuates sentences with yes-sir and no-sir, “I felt kind of bad.”

    While the odds of making an NFL roster as a free agent are long, they're hardly astronomical. The Chargers' roster is loaded with free-agent finds – Jacques Cesaire, Stephen Cooper, David Binn, Kassim Osgood, to name a few – topped by Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates.

    Last year's NFL Defense Player of the Year, Steelers linebacker James Harrison, was a free agent.

    At wide receiver, Wes Welker is the free-agent poster child. The Chargers signed him out of Texas Tech in 2004, cut him after one game, the Dolphins picked him up and now he's Tom Brady's security blanket at New England.

    As you'd expect from a player who's three units shy of earning a master's in sports business, Martin did his homework when prepping for the NFL.

    He signed with the Chargers partly because the team's top three wide receivers (Vincent Jackson, Chris Chambers and Malcom Floyd) are scheduled to be free agents next season. And because he knew his chances of making an NFL roster depended on his ability to play special teams, he nagged the West Texas coaches into letting him see some action there last season.

    “I had to beg just to get me a few (plays) because I knew I needed film for the NFL,” Martin said.

    In the second game of the season at Central Oklahoma, Martin burst through the middle of the line, blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.

    “When he was born, somebody touched him and said, 'You are built to be a football player,'” said Nesbitt.

    For Saturday's preseason opener against Seattle, Martin said he's slated to return kickoffs and play the outside gunner position on the punt team.

    While many fans grumble about paying regular-season prices for preseason football, Martin's view is understandably different.

    Leaning against his locker at Chargers Park, Martin broke into a smile, then said of the Seahawks game, “It's my Super Bowl. It's the biggest game I've played in my life.”


    BOLT POWER Well-Known Member

    Oct 21, 2006
    I'll be watching the 25 year old rook saturday, wish him the best:icon_party:
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Chico Andy

    Chico Andy BoltTalker

    Feb 15, 2007
    Interesting story. He seems to be getting glowing reports throughout camp. Seems like a long shot, but maybe he unseats Buster.

    I remember hearing accolades bestowed on the late Bill Walsh that he was known for playing the best player, not the player selected the highest. This seems like it might be one of those cases.

    I don't mean to hate on Buster, but I'm not so sure he is one of our top 5 receivers.

    Bear in mind I'm only going by what I read- I haven't actually even seen Buster play very much. How has he been doing? I did read that he has strung together 6 straight practices.
    It's not so much his skill level that is questioned, it's more his ability to stay healthy that seems to be a bigger question. Am I right on that?
  4. Alpenbolt

    Alpenbolt BoltTalker

    Sep 9, 2006
    Oh god, I can see it now. He makes the team for one year before we cut him the following. He catches on with another team before he of course ends up in New England....... uggh, we know how this will play out.
  5. Dublin Bolt

    Dublin Bolt BoltTalker

    Aug 12, 2006
    Yep...... he is the next Camarillo/Welker.
  6. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

    Nov 11, 2007
    Love this guy! He's been getting some very positive reviews throughout camp AND he wear's lucky #13!

    Hope there is a spot for him here on the squad cause he's got the heart of a champion.

    Guys like this are why I love love love preseason football - this is his SuperBowl and you KNOW he's gonna play with every ounce of his being.
  7. Bergo23

    Bergo23 BoltTalker

    Sep 28, 2006
    I really hope he makes the PS, and with all our FA's at WR this offseason, maybe he finds a way onto the 53 next year. He has done his homework, not only about our roster but our coaches (Joiner)...route running is gonna have to be his calling card.

    Rivers developed some Mo-Jo with another #13 who was an UDFA...and Malcolm Floyd has turned it into a legit career in the NFL.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. coachmarkos

    coachmarkos BoltTalker

    Jul 12, 2009
    I agree with this. We're kind of crowded this year, but with 3 players at his position with contracts running out, hopefully he can make our PS and then move up next year?

    Unless, like someone says, he beats out Buster.

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