Coach praises NU commit Drake Martinez

Laguna Beach athlete Drake Martinez, younger brother of Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez, committed to Nebraska late Wednesday night. Martinez projects as a safety, I-back or receiver in college.

LINCOLN — More than once during the 2012 season, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez said he wanted his younger brother, Drake, to join him on the football team.

Now, it’ll happen. Drake Martinez became the 23rd commit for NU’s 2013 recruiting class late Wednesday night. Husker Online first reported the news, and Taylor and Drake’s father, Casey Martinez, confirmed the commit in an email to The World-Herald. Drake Martinez wasn’t immediately available for comment.

A three-star prospect according to 247Sports, Rivals and Scout, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Martinez was the career rushing and scoring leader at Laguna Beach (Calif.) High School and could play several positions for Nebraska. Quarterback won’t be one of them.

Safety, wide receiver or even running back could be. As a fullback, he ran for 1,889 yards (10.5 yards per carry) in 2011 and 1,613 yards (9.4 yards per carry) last year at Laguna Beach, which finished 11-1-1. In 2012, Martinez had 34 touchdowns overall — seven of them on returns of some kind — and was named to the Orange County Register’s All-County team.

“He runs like a deer,” Laguna Beach coach Mike Churchill said of Martinez, whose 40-yard dash time is listed at 4.3 seconds. “Every time he touched the ball, he averaged almost 11 yards a snap. He’s every bit as fast as his brother. He’s a lot like Taylor. Quiet. Nothing phony about him.”

Safety, a position where NU lost previous commit Marcus McWilson to Kentucky on Monday, seems to be a likely starting point. Casey Martinez played safety at Iowa State in college, and Taylor Martinez trained most of his youth football career to play it until warming to quarterback in high school. Churchill said Drake Martinez led the team in tackles.

“From the first day, I never had to tell him to finish off a guy at full speed,” Churchill said.

Because the Martinez family preferred to keep the recruiting process quiet, it’s unclear just how many offers Martinez had, but Michigan State, San Diego State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt were among them. He’d recently visited the Spartans, who lost to the Huskers 28-24 in November. In that game, Taylor Martinez accounted for 365 total yards and four touchdowns.

If Drake Martinez ends up at safety, he’ll be the third one in the 2013 class, joining D.J. Singleton and Nathan Gerry. The Huskers will be looking for two new starting safeties next year to replace P.J. Smith and Daimion Stafford. Only juniors-to-be Harvey Jackson and Corey Cooper have much experience, and Cooper has been playing the dime position.

NU enters the final weekend of recruiting still looking at several prospects. The Huskers expect at least two official visitors — Gaithersburg (Md.) wide receiver Jacquille Veii and West Mesquite (Texas) defensive end Dimarya Mixon — this weekend and are courting more. Houston (Bellaire) offensive tackle Dwayne Johnson is expected to decide between Nebraska and Arkansas on Friday.

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