Most college football fans have witnessed a particularly wild coaching carousel spin this fall by reading, watching television or scrolling through Twitter.
The Martinez family and son Adrian, a heralded quarterback prospect, have a different perspective. They’ve seen it up close and personal, standing in different colors in their Fresno, California, living room.
When the wheel does stop spinning, there’s a real chance it might be with the four-star, dual-threat quarterback arriving in Lincoln in January and enrolling as a student — and the quarterback of the future — at the University of Nebraska.
Martinez piled up more than 4,000 total yards and 39 touchdowns as a junior at Clovis West High in Fresno, but then had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in the winter. In May, he verbally committed to Tennessee. The Volunteers, though, suffered through a 4-8 season and head coach Butch Jones was fired Nov. 12.
Martinez stayed on board, but dominoes kept falling.
Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel visited the family home in the middle of the week of Nov. 20 and arranged for Martinez and his dad, Tony, to visit Columbia, Missouri the weekend of Dec. 8.
Days later, the father and son sat on the couch and watched Central Florida knock off Memphis, 62-55, in double overtime in the American Athletic Conference football championship.
“Then Adrian gets a call an hour or so after — we were still watching the postgame and all the analysis because we’re kind of football junkies — and next thing you know he comes back and says that was (quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco) and I just got an offer from Nebraska,” Tony recalled in a phone interview with the Journal Star. “It came out of nowhere, right? We sat there kind of in shock and were like ‘Wow.’ We got the word that he was headed to Nebraska and what was going on and he was the guy.”
Verduzco was in the Martinez living room by Monday night and they were trying to make plans for an official visit. Something odd was up with the plans to visit Mizzou, though: The plane tickets hadn’t been purchased.
As it turns out, Heupel was finalizing a deal to become Frost’s successor at Central Florida.
“I said, ‘Something’s up. I don’t know what’s going on, but if they’re going to waver on this deal, let’s go to Nebraska,’” Tony said. “We changed it because (Mizzou) didn’t buy the tickets and I’m really thankful we didn’t make that trip.”
And equally thankful they did visit NU.
"I wasn’t really sure what to expect coming in but it was an awesome visit," Adrian Martinez said Sunday.
Tony Martinez said he was particularly, “blown away,” by a meeting with Verduzco.
“He just went on about quarterbacks,” he said. “Not necessarily the position but the mechanics and what all goes into it. Nobody’s’ ever shared that kind of information. Everybody talks about quarterback school or what they learned from his guy or that guy in different scenarios, but (Verduzco) came from a whole different place. I was totally unprepared for that and you can see why he’s such a guru.
“I could have stayed there in that room for a day.”
It’s been a long time since Adrian was able to do anything except talk about quarterback play. He had reconstructive surgery in February, performed by renowned orthopedist Neal ElAttrache. ElAttrache is the team doctor for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Rams and is one of the foremost surgeons in sports, having operated on everyone from Tom Brady to Kobe Bryant to Zack Greinke.
“I asked the doctor what’s going to happen, is he ever going to be at 100 percent? And the doctor looked me in the face and said, ‘I don’t think we’ve seen Adrian’s 100 percent. It’s obvious that he’s had this injury for a while and he’s going to be better than he was before. He’s going to be stronger,’” Tony Martinez said.
The Martinezes met with ElAttrache in November before Adrian’s Nov. 11 official visit to Ohio State and the doctor gave a positive update. Now, Adrian is planning on playing in Jan. 4’s Under Armor All-American Bowl in Orlando.
“He’s hungry, he’s starving to play and he’s so excited to play against guys like Justin Fields and all of these guys,” Tony Martinez said, referring to the Kennesaw, Georgia, native ranked by 247Sports as the No. 2 overall prospect and top senior quarterback in the nation. “He wants to showcase himself and compare himself.”
Once that game’s over, the plan is to travel directly to college — Knoxville or Lincoln? Time will tell. Members of the new Volunteers coaching staff are set to visit Fresno early this week. The impression left by new coaches at Nebraska was clearly a strong one.
“In talking to Mr. Frost and the rest of the coaching crew over there, they’re just an amazing group of men,” Tony Martinez said. “Nebraska is very, very fortunate to get a man and a (coaching staff) with such regard and character to lead that team back to where it should be.”