The hot topic for Irish fans over the past two weeks has been Omar Hunter’s last minute decision to continue testing the college waters, or in this case the Florida swampland, and Mike Martin has surfaced as a legitimate back-up plan in the event that Hunter does choose Florida. The debate about who is the better player has begun to rage on most Notre Dame message communities like a wet box of matches, but is there any validity to the discussion? Could Martin be a solution to the last minute snub by Omar? Well here’s my opinion on the subject, which along with $1.25 will get you a cup of coffee at the local donut shop.
Omar Hunter is the #4 ranked prospect on the Rivals list at the interior defensive lineman position, Mike Martin is the #12 ranked player. Both bring something different and unique to the table, but Omar Hunter seems to be a man among boys.
Admittedly, I have nothing to go on for either of these players beyond the highlight film that can be found on the various premium pay sites around the web, which is about all anyone has to go on unless you live in Michigan or Georgia. I don’t live anywhere near those places so like most everyone else I am basing my opinion on the available film.
I took another look at that film yesterday and tried to scrutinize it closely in the hopes of finding something, anything, that would convince me that Mike Martin is a better option than Hunter. It’s not that I have anything against Omar; it’s just that as a Notre Dame loyalist, I have a problem rooting for kids that don’t want to play for this program.
I know, I know, “the kid has every right to choose the school he wants to play for…” I’ve heard it all before, so let me save you the trouble. In fact, anybody who spends any amount of time on Irish message boards has heard it. There is the contingent of fans that bleed blue and gold and think that everything that doesn’t bleed blue and gold sucks, and then there are those crazy libs that believe we should have a certain level of compassion and understanding for everybody, whether they are Irish at heart or not.
Let me just explain something, I am a Notre Dame fan. So while I agree that Omar has the right to choose whatever school he wants, I reserve the right to support only players that attend (or in this case players who will be attending in the future) Notre Dame. You wouldn’t cheer for Hunter during the season if he was donning a Florida Gators uniform would you? Take note, this is not me saying that I hope Omar gets hit by a bus or suffers a career ending injury, I don’t wish harm on the kid… but he is either Irish or he’s not, and if he isn’t then he just fell off my radar as somebody I give a flying turd about. It’s as simple as that.
So there I was, looking for reasons to welcome Mike Martin with open arms as the better of the two, and tell Omar where he can take a flying leap. Unfortunately though, nothing on the film confirmed what I was so desperately seeking. I scrutinized everything that Rivals and Scout (which turns out to be the same basic footage) had to offer for the better part of an hour trying to find some indication that Mike Martin can be as dominant as Omar Hunter and when the dust settled on my keyboard, I had nothing.
Now this isn’t to say that Martin is not a specimen. He is probably the stronger of the two from a pure brute strength perspective. Martin benches 420 lbs. and Hunter benches about the same, but Martin can squat 550 lbs. to Hunter’s 475, and that lower body strength seems to make a difference. Martin also has a swim move that is more technically sound than anything Hunter has to offer. Unfortunately, that is where the comparisons seem to stop.
Hunter is a bull-rush specialist like nothing I have ever seen from a kid his age. His singular determination to destroy the person (or in most cases “persons”) in front of him and get into the backfield is something to behold. To say that Omar is an extremely explosive and virtually unstoppable player would be a vast understatement.
There is also a difference in the type of player that Notre Dame would be getting in these two kids. With Martin, the Irish would probably be getting a player cut from the same mold as Trevor Laws. Like Laws, Martin has a background in wrestling and is a master of leverage. His balance and lower body strength allow him to do some things that Hunter simply could not. However, he’s not a road-grader like Hunter and would probably not be able to fill the 0-technique NT spot like Hunter could. Not that there would be anything wrong with another Trevor Laws type of player, but with the new 3-4 scheme that Corwin Brown implemented last season, there is no doubt that Omar Hunter would be a better fit.
In my estimation, the best indicator of whether something is true or not is if it remains true even after you have something emotionally invested in it not being true. I studied the film of both players wanting desperately for Mike Martin to be the better of the two. And in the end, he just wasn’t. I think Martin would be a terrific fall-back plan in the event that Hunter does go elsewhere, and let’s face it, it looks like that is what’s going to happen at this point. But he’s not a better player than Hunter and at this point in time, he doesn’t appear to be as good a fit for this defensive scheme either.