College Spotlight – Dawson Alum Martin Planning on One More year at UNCC
Looking around this corner of the state of Georgia back in 2015-17, you weren’t going to find a linebacker with more love for contact with a motor that wouldn’t stop than Luke Martin of Dawson County. The 2017 product of the Tigers went on at first to Georgia Military College for a hot minute before moving on to UNC Charlotte to play for the 49ers. The rest is history…that continues to be written.
While 2020 was set to be his senior year, Martin has already made the choice to play one more thanks to COVID-19.
“These last few years at UNCC have been some of the best years of my life,” says Martin. “I’m thankful that I’ll be able to have another one due to the COVID-19 eligibility rules. UNCC has been like a home away from home. From going on campus during the week to Saturdays at Jerry Richardson Stadium, I’m truly grateful for UNCC. All the coaches, staff members, and most importantly teammates have helped made my team very memorable.”
This season, and this year frankly, have been hard for anyone in the world to have any consistency or sense of normalcy. Nevertheless, Martin attacks the uncertainties the same way he attacks anyone holding a football on the opposing team.
“There has definitely been a lot of ups and downs this season due to COVID,” says Martin. “We only got to play 6 games this year and we had 7 cancellations. It was very hard. When you prepare and practice for hours and hours and do not get the opportunity to perform on Saturdays it is hard. We as a team decided though that we would continue to fight and prepare each and every week even when we didn’t know if we were going to play or not. When we were about to play it was honestly just a blessing from God. You take things like that for granted, but it truly is a blessing. My next step from here is to play another year at UNCC. I will graduate this upcoming spring and start my masters program in the summer.”
One thing is for certain. Luke Martin’s tenacity is part of his upbringing, and his time at Dawson County helped get him ready for where he is now.
“Coach [Jeff] Lee, Coach [Sid] Maxwell, and their staffs really helped me be prepared when I went to college,” says Martin. “Not only as football player did they help me, but also as a man. I’m truly thankful for them.”
While they prepared him for the next level, there is still a large leap from playing high school ball to playing at the D1 level.
“The biggest difference I would say is the speed of the game,” adds Martin. “When I went to Georgia Military College straight out of high school, I could even tell a big difference there. Then jumping to UNCC and being at the D1 FBS Level, it jumped another level. Everyone when they come to college is just as fast and strong and a lot of times even faster and stronger than you are. For me, I just knew I had to work my tail off everyday. I had to work on my speed, study my playbook, watch a lot a film, and a lot of other things to get on that level of play. I’m still adapting as a player, but I feel like I’ve been able to adapt due to God blessing me with a passion for the game and the ability to have a great work ethic.”
Martin has found a lot of success as a 49er. After coming over from Georgia Military, he played regularly that first season, appearing in 10 games. He started two games in that 2018 season, totaling 20 tackles (12 solo) and one tackle for loss. He had a season-high 5 tackles and a forced fumble in a 20-17 win over USM that season. In 2019, he played in 13 games (1 start) and came up with 29 tackles, 1 TFL, 0.5 Sacks, and a career-high 8 tackles versus FAU. He helped guide UNCC to its first-ever Bowl Game (Bahamas Bowl). In his 6 games of 2020 (all starts), he had 27 tackles (0.5 for loss), a pass breakup and 2 QB hurries. That included a new career high of 11 tackles against App State.
All told, Martin has 76 tackles to his name at UNCC, 2.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and 1 pass deflection. He’s got a lot of great memories to choose from so far, which makes it hard for him to pinpoint just one.
“There are a lot of great memories that I’ve been apart of as a 49er,” adds Martin. “There are so many to choose from that I’m just going to name a few that really stick out. First of all being able to go to a bowl game for the first time in school history, the Bahamas Bowl, and spend it in the Bahamas was an experience I will never forget. My sophomore year getting my first start against Middle Tennessee State was something I’ll never forget. Junior year when we beat Marshall to become bowl eligible for the first time ever. This year being a full time starter and having a lot of great memories from game to game. There’s just so many great memories that God has truly blessed me with and I’m very excited to make more next year.”
Martin, a BLITZ Hall of Famer, set the Dawson County single-season tackles record with 185 in his senior season, which included 20 tackles for loss. He had 133 tackles as a junior, and finished his illustrious career with over 400 tackles (30+ for loss), 5 sacks, and 2 interceptions. He was named Class 3A All-State as a senior in 2016 and was the 7-AAA Defensive Player of the Year. He was a 1st-Team All-Region selection 3 times at Dawson.
CS Framed Print (11×17) – Luke Martin
CS Framed Print (11×17) – Luke Martin