Every time Doug Martin trotted on the field at Boise State it was like a shot of espresso directly into the blood stream. He played with a level of enthusiasm and excitement that was infectious. He energized players and fans.
There was so much more to his game than speed, agility, and strength. He played smart. He had good vision and instincts on how to get into the secondary. When a tackle was imminent he was able to position his body to attain maximum extra yardage after contact.
He trusted his blockers and the play call.
He played every down as if it was a running play. Before the snap his eyes darted all over the field. The only guy that saw the field better was Kellen Moore.
Doug Martin was often the guy between Kellen Moore and a sack. I recall a game when a lineman looped around to try and catch Moore from the blind-side. He was all stretched out ready to send Moore off the field in a daze. Martin shifted over and caught the guy in the ribs. The guy got up and weaved to the sidelines holding his side.
One of his more important contributions to the backfield was blocking.
While at Boise he averaged 5.6 yards per carry over his career. He scored 47 touchdowns. Like other starting players at Boise State during his era he never got too much playing time in the second half; Boise was so far ahead that often the first team played only one series of downs in the second half.
It was difficult to keep him off the field. Early in his career he was a starter on defense. He returned punts and kickoffs. He mixed the Gatorade and kept stats.
Legend has it some linemen gave him the nickname, “Muscle Hamster.” Doug never cared for it and likely those linemen would like to take it back. A hamster’s body is too small for Martin’s heart.
When Martin went pro he replaced LaGarette Blount as the top running back at Tampa Bay. There is an irony to all of this. It was Blount who sucker-punched Boise State’s Byron Hout after Oregon’s upset loss to Boise State to open the 2008 season. Blount had only one way to go and that was to claim there was a racial slur involved. After all, that could even justify murder.
Blount was beat out because Martin has a better work ethic and is a team player. Martin runs better and blocks a whole-lot better.
In one game last year he rushed for 135 yards and 1 TD and caught 3 passes for 79 yards and 1 TD. In game against Oakland Martin rushed for 251 yards and tied the NFL record for rushing touchdowns in a half with 4. He became the first player in NFL history to score touchdown runs of 70-plus, 45-plus, and 65-plus yards in a game, and is the second player in league history to run for 250+ yards and four touchdowns in a game.
At the end of the 2012 NFL regular season Martin finished with 1450 yards rushing and nearly 500 yards receiving. He was selected first alternate for the Pro Bowl his rookie season.
Martin has already established himself as one of top NFL running backs. It’s about time for him to shed that nickname and call him something more appropriate. If Martin chooses to embrace it, that’s up to him, but the great ones don’t need nicknames, Doug Martin is just fine.