LINCOLN — Years ago, Drake Martinez's older brother would help him with his homework or cheer him up after a bad day.
Now, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and Drake have to do some of their bonding with Xbox online video games. The latest version of Madden. Drake plays as the St. Louis Rams. Taylor has recently adopted the San Francisco 49ers as his team.
“Right when they started to get good,” Drake joked. “Taylor jumped on their bandwagon.”
Earlier in February, Drake decided to hitch his wagon, so to speak, to Nebraska. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety from Laguna Beach, Calif., committed to play football for the Huskers. He'll have one year in which he and Taylor are on the same college team. And it's far from a lock that Drake will play next year, so the chance of them contributing in the same game appears slim.
Still, Taylor played a role in Drake signing with NU.
“I look up to him,” Drake said. “He's very close to me.”
Drake watched most of Taylor's Husker exploits from afar, attending just the 2012 Michigan game and the 2010 Colorado game — which Taylor missed because of injury — in Lincoln, two bowl games and NU's 36-30 loss at UCLA. Taylor, in turn, saw a few of Drake's games at Laguna Beach High School.
But the brothers talked often. In the last year, as NU recruited Drake, Taylor told reporters he wanted Drake to join him at Nebraska. Husker coach Bo Pelini said that he took a soft approach to recruiting Drake, not wanting to pressure him into a decision just because Taylor was Nebraska's starting quarterback.
“In fact I was probably too hands off at times by giving him some space,” Pelini said on signing day. “...It started to get a little too close, so I got on the phone and we talked about it and tried to figure everything out. It became really clear that he knew this was the place for him and this was a tremendous opportunity for him.”
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Drake, whose father Casey handled all of his recruiting, declined to talk about other schools pursuing him, but he had offers from Tennessee, Michigan State and Vanderbilt, among others. He took a visit to the Spartans' campus.
But Drake Martinez agreed that, once Pelini called, the process ended swiftly.
“He really wanted me out there, and he said he'd give me a chance on special teams,” said Martinez, who wants to try kick and punt returns and could be a good candidate for the “gunner” role on punt coverage.
At Laguna Beach, Martinez did plenty. At fullback, he ran for 3,502 yards in two years, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry. In 2012, he had 34 total touchdowns — seven of them on returns. And yet Martinez thought he played safety best. That's where he projects in college.
Quarterback? Never an option.
“I'm too aggressive for it,” Martinez said. “I can throw some bombs, but I'm not sure what the accuracy would be on them.”
But track is an option this spring for Martinez, who's never competed in high school before. Clocked at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Drake said he plans to try the 100 and 200 meters, and the 400-meter relay. He's not sure how fast he is in any of them yet.
“They come out on Wednesday,” Drake Martinez said. That is, the stopwatches.
He'll join NU's program in July because California high schools dismiss school in late June. From there, it's a steep learning curve to digest Pelini's complex defense.
Even Taylor Martinez — now Nebraska's career leader in total offense — didn't play his first season in Lincoln. But Drake will aim for it anyway.
“I'll do anything I need to get on the field,” he said.
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