More than three years passed between Tate Martell’s first and second verbal commitments. The latter took place on Thursday, with the top dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2017, according to Rivals.com, announcing his intentions to attend Texas A&M in a message posted on Twitter.
Martell garnered national attention when, as a 14-year-old, he pledged to Washington. At the time, it was natural to draw parallels between Martell and David Sills, another highly regarded quarterback who committed to USC as a 13-year-old and worked with the same trainer as Martell, Steve Clarkson. According to The Seattle Times, Clarkson showed then-Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian some film of Martell and told Sarkisian, “if you could clone Fran Tarkenton and Brett Favre, you would have Tate Martell and that just resonated.”
Like Sills, Martell was forced to consider whether to stick with the school to which he originally committed after a coaching change. In January 2015, more than a year after Sarkisian, a former USC offensive coordinator, left Washington to become the Trojans’ head coach, Martell decommitted from the Huskies. Still, even though he had cut ties with Washington, the school made the top-five list Martell released last month, along with Alabama, USC Texas A&M and Michigan. The consensus heading into Thursday was that Martell would pick either the Aggies or USC.
The Trojans were viewed as a strong candidate to land him in part because Martell grew up in Southern California and began his high school career at Poway (Calif.) High. They also are led by the coach, Sarkisian, who offered Martell while he was at Washington. Texas A&M, meanwhile, appeared to gain some momentum after Martell took a visit to College Station in July. In addition, the Aggies’ best season under coach Kevin Sumlin was driven by exceptional play from the quarterback to whom Martell is most frequently compared, Johnny Manziel.
“I felt like Texas A&M was the best school for me after going out there, meeting the coaches and seeing the facilities,” Martell said of his decision, according to Rivals.com affiliate Aggie Yell. “I fell in love with that school like no other. It's absolutely where I want to be. I love that it's a college city, and coach Sumlin and coach (Jake) Spavital are really great. The offense fits me really well and the facilities there, the fan base—I mean, everything is unreal. I love everything about the school.”
At 5'10," 190 pounds, Martell is short for his position but has drawn praise for his arm strength, accuracy and ability to extend plays with his legs. After transferring to Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman in July 2014, Martell took over the starting job the second game of the season and completed 62.0% of his passes for 2,537 yards with 40 touchdowns and only two interceptions while adding 433 yards and five scores on the ground. Martell was named Nevada’s Gatorade player of the year and led Gorman to a 15–0 record and sixth consecutive state title.
“Martell embodies all the adjectives of an outstanding quarterback—poise, intelligence, competitiveness, maturity and many more,” Adam Gorney, the West Coast analyst for Rivals.com, wrote of Martell in March. “He has so much to his game, it's impressive to watch him play because he makes all the throws flawlessly almost every time and he scans the field so well to find receivers. Rarely does he lock in and give defenders a clue where he's going.” Embedded below are highlights of Martell from his sophomore season at Gorman.
If Martell, the first player to commit to Texas A&M in the class of 2017, honors his pledge, it would continue an impressive run on quarterbacks for the Aggies. One year after signing Kyle Allen, the No. 1 pro-style passer in the country, in 2014, the Aggies added heralded dual-threat Kyler Murray. Allen showed promise toward the end of last season and is viewed as the likely starter heading into 2015, but he'll need to hold off Murray, who brings sterling credentials and an intriguing skill set that should fit well in Sumlin's system.
Where does Martell fit in Texas A&M's future at quarterback?
A lot could change between now and when Martell arrives in College Station, in 2017, but there's a chance he'll have to fight off another talented player at his position—namely Murray—to earn playing time early in his career. (The Aggies have not received a commitment from any quarterbacks in the class of 2016). In the short term, Texas A&M may be on the verge of landing an elite pass-catcher. Martell is viewed as one half of a potential “package deal” with Gorman teammate, housemate and four-star receiver Tyjon Lindsey.
“From my perspective, I wanted to be the first kid in my recruiting class,” Martell said recently. “I wanted to have the ability to help bring kids to the school I commit to. I think I have such great relationships with others—there probably isn't a kid out there that I haven't talked to. I know all the top kids in the country and we all talk about this stuff, playing together and building something at the next level.”