The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska football players you need to know heading into the 2020 season.
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6-2, 225 • Junior • Quarterback
For the third straight year, Martinez is No. 1 on the Camp Countdown. Each year it’s been for slightly different reasons.
In 2020 he returns as the Big Ten’s most experienced quarterback. Yes, really. The kid has grown up and darn near grown old for the college game.
Martinez had a precocious freshman year in which he turned heads and dropped jaws with some of his plays, followed by sophomore struggles with injuries, accuracy and the white-hot spotlight of expectation. Martinez concedes he didn’t handle it perfectly all of the time, and he seemed to get down on himself early last season. Scott Frost had an eyebrow-raising comment about Martinez this summer when he suggested Martinez wasn’t quite as locked in for year two as he had been for year one.
“He came in his first year and had to compete for that spot, and he looked like a competitor every single day in practice,” Frost said. “Year two, I think because of the situation, he was able to put it in cruise control a little, and I think that showed up on the field a little more. That’s not to put everything on him ... but I don’t think he’ll be lax in his preparation ever again.”
Martinez has surely read or heard about the comment, and if that doesn’t fire him up, the pressure coming from backup quarterback Luke McCaffrey just might. For Nebraska to have a winning season in 2020 — winning at least six games out of 10 — Martinez has to play better than he did in 2019. No doubts, no excuses.