Tate Martell just turned 14-years-old. He’s not even in high school yet (in fact, he’s still more than a year away), but he already knows where he’s going to play college football. The quarterback out of San Diego committed to the University of Washington today — instantly becoming the talk of the sports world in Seattle.
Martell finished up seventh grade last year, so that means he’ll be a member of the 2017 freshman class. Keep in mind, most football players commit to a university when they’re a senior in high school — some when they’re juniors (if they’re talented enough). So, this is a VERY unusual situation.
Martell and his father Al told ESPN Los Angeles they met with Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian today, and the situation just “felt right.” Tate says he and Sarkisian really see eye-to-eye (I don’t think he realizes coaches will say anything to get a recruit) and credits their “chemistry” for his decision.
“We could have done this later,” Tate said. “But, it’s a good opportunity for me right now.”
Al agreed with Tate, asking what the harm could be in committing right now — and it’s a valid question. A verbal commitment doesn’t mean much in college football. Tate didn’t sign his life away on a contract today — he just simply accepted a scholarship offer. If the coaching situation changes at Washington, Tate can go to another school if he wants to. If Tate decides he doesn’t want to play football anymore, and wants to become an astronaut — he can do that too. There’s nothing binding about a verbal commitment.
“At the end of the day,” Al said, ”Tate is still coming home with mom and dad for the next five years.”
Al added that they never planned on Tate committing to a school this early in his career; the process just came to them. I think that’s the craziest thing of all though. You can look at the parents or the kid and ask what’s wrong with them (if you have a problem with the situation), but in the end, the University of Washington offered a scholarship to a kid who’s not even old enough to drive. I’m not opposed to all of this, but I think it’s strange the system allows that.
Will Tate Martell end up at the University of Washington? No one knows (I seriously doubt it). A lot can (and will) change over the next five years. Martell could get injured, he could stop growing, etc., but that’s a gamble the Huskies were willing to take.
There’s no doubt Martell stole the college football headlines today, and that’s not an easy thing for a 14-year-old to do. The kid is obviously doing something right. Take a look at him yourself…
That video was posted on YouTube by renowned quarterback coach Steve Clarkson, who has guided Martell for the last three years (he’s only been playing tackle football for seven seasons). Clarkson made headlines in 2010 when one of his students, David Sills, committed to USC at 13-years-old. I’m sure Clarkson works with plenty of quarterbacks we’ve never heard of before, but I’d say he’s building a pretty solid track record. We’ll see if we’re saying the same thing a few years from now once Martell and Sills are actually in college.
What do you think about this situation? Are you in favor of kids committing a university at such a young age? Should schools even be allowed to offer scholarships to players that age? I would love to hear your take on this. Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Google+. You can also find more great sports coverage on http://allaroundtim.com.