Orangewood Christian School sophomore linebacker Jimmy Martin earned his first college football scholarship offer Monday from FIU.
Martin, an eighth-grade All-American in 2010 and a MaxPreps second-team freshman all-American in 2011, has led Orangewood in tackles in each of his first two seasons. He plays fullback and linebacker for the Rams.
“I saw Jimmy when he was a younger kid and playing Pop Warner. I lost track of him and didn’t know where he had ended up going to school and then I come over to Orangewood and there he was,” said Orangewood coach Bill Gierke, who enters his third season with the Maitland school this fall after a long stint at Orlando Edgewater. “You could tell at an early age he was going to be a good one. He was so dedicated.”
When asked if he could think of anyone he had coached in his career that might remind him of Martin’s abilities at such an early age, Gierke was quick to point out Orlando Edgewater product and former University of Florida player Lorenzo Edwards, who was a U.S. Army All-American in high school.
“I had Lorenzo Edwards who played for me and was an All-American,” Gierke said. “He was the same type of kid ... so driven and such a good student. Great kids.”
Gierke also said he would be surprised if Martin didn’t have at least one more offer before the week is out. Cincinnati already offered teammate DB Waynedriko Smith and looks to be very close with Martin.
"It feels good … with all of the colleges coming in you kind of expect coaches looking at you and to get offers, but to get that first offer definitely feels good," Martin said. "Just getting that first offer kind of shows that all the hard work is starting to pay off.
"It definitely takes a burden off my shoulders and as other colleges come in now and ask what offers I have, I finally get to say I have an offer. It might bring other colleges in to look at me and get their attention."
Martin recently won the Combine King honor at the Orlando National Underclassmen Combine, posting impressive numbers in each of the five combine events, as well as impressing combine coaches in his one-on-one drills. He posted a 40-yard-dash time of 4.71 seconds, a shuttle time of 4.09, broad-jumped 9.4 feet, had a vertical jump of 32.5 inches and put up 155 pounds on the bench press 30 times.
Martin said getting that first offer certainly doesn't mean he'll be taking it easy the rest of the spring.
"If anything, this will make me play harder," he said.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, CT Now